By: M.L. Stein
HIS FIRST CONVICTION overturned, Max Dunlap was found guilty a second time of the l976 car-bomb murder of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles.
An Arizona jury found Dunlap, 63, guilty of first-degree murder and conspiracy on April 20 after 10 days of deliberation. The conviction could send him back to death row, where he spent two years before an appeals court freed him in 1980.
Dunlap’s co-defendant in Bolles’ slaying, James Robison, a Chandler, Ariz., plumber, will be tried May l7 on the same charges. Both men were found guilty of Bolles’ murder in l977 and were sentenced to death.
Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods appeared in court after the verdict was read and told reporters it meant that freedom of the press will be protected.
“It took a long time, but we kept at it and justice was done,” he said.
Bolles’ son, David Bolles, told the Arizona Republic that the family “is relieved this long ordeal is over and justice has been served. It’s been hard to live with this case for 17 years, but I think the second conviction is going to stick.”
Dunlap’s attorney, Murray Miller, said he planned an appeal and expressed confidence that the verdict will again be overturned because of an error in the judge’s charge to the jury.
Bolles, 47, an award-winning investigative reporter, died 11 days after six sticks of dynamite blew up under his car parked at a Phoenix hotel.
According to the prosecution, Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor, arranged the slaying at the request of Kemper Marley Sr., a liquor distributor. Marley, who was never charged in the crime, died in l990 at 83.
A major factor in Dunlap’s conviction was the testimony of John Harvey Adamson, who admitted luring Bolles to the hotel and planting the bomb. He said Robison had built the device and set it off by remote control.
Adamson has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and, as the result of a plea bargain, has been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Dunlap faces a mandatory sentence of 25 years in prison and could be sentenced to death or life behind bars.
William Shover, director of public affairs for Phoenix Newspapers Inc., which publishes the Republic, said Dunlap deserves whatever sentence is handed down.
Shover recalled that he was by Bolles’ side during his 11-day ordeal. “It was probably as ugly a death as anyone has had to suffer,” he said.