A Hillsborough County jury took found Oscar Ray Bolin Jr. guilty Thursday in the 1986 stabbing death of Natalie Blanche Holley. A judge then sentenced him to life in prison. Bolin had previously been charged with first-degree murder in the case. Over the years, Bolin has actually been tried for Holley’s death four times now. In the first two trials, he was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
After a third trial, he was convicted of second-degree murder. When that conviction was overturned, he again faced second-degree murder charges in the case. The legal concept of double jeopardy prohibited the prosecution from pursuing a first-degree murder conviction and the death penalty because he was found not guilty of the higher charge in the last trial.
He is currently on death row, facing execution for two other 1986 Tampa area murders.
As reported in local media, Bolin’s defense attorney Bjorn Brunvand agreed to represent Bolin because two people – one a state inmate – said separately that they heard a New York man confess to killing Holley. When defense attorneys tried to interview the New York man, he invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The prosecution persuaded the judge to prevent that testimony from being used in the trial.
Jurors were not allowed to hear any evidence of Bolin’s other convictions, nor did they hear testimony regarding the fact that he had been previously tried and convicted in the Holley case. Newspapers reported the jurors were very surprised to hear about the other cases and the previous trials after they had returned their verdict.