In 1986, Phillip Bolin was 13 years old. His parents went to Charlotte, N.C., that December and left him in the care of his adult stepbrother, Oscar Ray Bolin Jr.
It probably seemed like a good idea at the time; the teenager liked and respected the older man.
"I looked up to him," Phillip said Thursday. "Idolized him, really."
The hero worship ended Dec. 4, 1986.
That was the night, Phillip said, that Oscar Ray Bolin asked the boy to help him take a woman's body into the nearby woods.
Phillip, now 19, told his story to the jurors in the first-degree murder case against his stepbrother, who is charged with the 1986 killing of Teri Lynn Matthews, a 26-year-old Land O'Lakes woman whose body was found in the woods near where Bolin lived.
Oscar Ray Bolin, who was convicted last year for the 1986 murders of Natalie Blanche Holley and Stephanie Collins in Hillsborough County, showed little reaction as his stepbrother told what he saw six years ago.
Phillip said he then lived in a trailer on Valencia Road in Gowers Corner. Bolin lived in a camper about 30 feet to the rear.
Around midnight, Bolin knocked on the trailer door, Phillip said.
"He told me to put my clothes on and come outside," he said.
It was too dark to see at first, but he could hear a strange sound, a whining or moaning.
"Like my dog got run over or something," he said.
Bolin beckoned the boy to the side of his camper where he said he saw a sheet-wrapped bundle on the ground. The sounds were coming from the bundle.
Phillip said he didn't know what it was, but that Bolin told him it was a woman who had gotten shot during a drug deal in Land O'Lakes.
Bolin then got a water hose from the trailer, Phillip said. He straddled the woman and started spraying water at her. "He was standing over top of her, trying to drown her or something," Phillip said.
Next, Bolin went to the wrecker truck he used at work and removed what looked like a long, wooden club with a metal end.
In 1986, Bolin worked for Kahles & Kahles Inc., a Tampa towing company.
Phillip said he saw Bolin stand over the woman and raise the club over his head. That's when the boy decided he couldn't look anymore and turned away.
He could still hear, though, he said. He heard a series of blunt thumps, one after the other. Eventually, he couldn't hear the moaning sound anymore.
"After the thumping quit, the noise quit," he said.
Bolin took the hose again and rinsed the body, Phillip said. Then he asked the boy to help him load the woman onto the wrecker. Phillip said he did so, but refused when Bolin asked him to go along and help dump the body in woods.
Danny Ferns, 17, who was Phillip's best friend in 1986, also testified Thursday. He said he and Phillip were waiting for the school bus the next morning when Danny noticed his friend seemed upset.
"He was a wreck," Danny said.
The boys went to Phillip's home that afternoon, after the discovery of Matthews' body was made public. Danny said he saw blood on the grass between Phillip's trailer and Bolin's camper.
Prosecutors also presented evidence and testimony from several law enforcement officers designed to show a link between Matthews' murder and the murders for which Bolin was convicted last year.
The trial is set to continue today at 9:30 a.m.