A former carnival worker who was convicted of killing three Bay-area women and then married a member of his defense team was executed Thursday night after 30 years of trials, guilty verdicts and appeals.
Oscar Ray Bolin was pronounced dead by lethal injection Thursday at 10:16 p.m. at Florida State Prison in Starke, Gov. Rick Scott's office said. The scheduled 6 p.m. execution time was delayed until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Bolin's final appeal without comment.
The death warrant Scott signed in October was for the 1986 killing of Teri Lynn Matthews. The 26-year-old Matthews was abducted from a post office in Pasco County.
"As for possibly forgiving Oscar Ray Bolin for the deliberate and cruel murder of my daughter, it will never happen," said Matthews' mother Kathleen Reeves. "He never accepted responsibility for his heinous acts."
Bolin was also sentenced to death for the killing of 17-year-old Stephanie Collins. A jury also gave him the death penalty for killing 25-year-old Natalie Holley, but that verdict was thrown out because of legal errors. All three women were stabbed.
"We all miss Stephanie everyday," said Collins' mother Donna Witmer. "But I'll have sweet memories of her."
Another jury eventually found him guilty of second-degree murder in the Holley case.
Reeves and Collins' family were present for the execution. Reeves said it doesn't matter that Bolin was not executed for all three cases "because he only dies once."
"He dies for all of our girls," she said.
Bolin said, "No, sir," when asked if he wanted to make a final statement Thursday night. The execution took about 12 minutes, during which Bolin's chest heaved for several minutes as he took a number of deep breaths.
Afterward, tears rolled down the cheeks of Bolin's lawyer, Bjorn Brunvand, as he talked to members of the media.
"I cannot imagine the pain they have suffered," he said of the victims' families. "But this is not the solution. Executing people is barbaric, and I don't think it's healthy for us to find joy in a healthy human being, being executed."
Several dozen friends and family members of the victims gathered outside the prison after the execution and talked to the media.
"It was not a celebratory event," Reeves said. "I feel relief that it finally occurred."
"I will go to my grave knowing I experienced closure in my daughter's murder," she said.
On Wednesday, Bolin insisted he was innocent. "I didn't know 'em, never seen 'em, never met 'em," he said of the three victims.
Bolin said evidence used to convict him was both tampered with and planted.
"My conscience is clear," he said. "I'm at peace with myself. It's my release. My punishment's over. After 28 years of this, being in this box for 28 years, it's a release. My punishment's over. They can't hurt me no more."
While on trial, Bolin and a woman on his defense team fell in love. Rosalie Martinez was a paralegal at the Hillsborough Public Defender's office who was married to a prominent Tampa attorney. Martinez divorced him and married Bolin, on live TV, in 1996 - 10 years after the slayings.
All of Bolin's convictions were reversed at least twice due to legal errors, but new juries found him guilty again in all three cases.
He once again received the death penalty in the Matthews and Collins killings, but a new jury in the Holley slaying found Bolin guilty of second-degree murder, converting his previous death sentence to a sentence of life in prison.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
Teri Lynn Matthews