PHOENIX A state board rejected a clemency request Friday from a man convicted in the 1976 car-bomb murder of an Arizona Republic reporter.
The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency denied the commutation request by 78-year-old Max Dunlap, who is serving a life sentence for arranging the murder of reporter Don Bolles. Dunlap isn't eligible for parole until late 2014.
Dunlap's family members said he should be released from prison because he is in poor health and they can provide better medical care for him. Bolles' daughter said Dunlap should remain incarcerated.
A prosecutor said Dunlap would probably get a medical evaluation that would be used to make a similar clemency request in the future.
Bolles' car exploded as he backed out of a parking lot at a Phoenix hotel where he had gone to meet a source. A bomb made of dynamite had been planted under his car and was detonated by remote control. Bolles died of his injuries 11 days later.
Prosecutors had believed the reporter was targeted because he had written stories that upset a liquor wholesaler who was a mentor of Dunlap.
Of the three men convicted in the killing, Dunlap is the only one still in prison.
One man, who police said put the bomb on the car, was released from prison in 1996 after serving a 20-year sentence. Another man, who was accused of setting off the bomb, was convicted in the murder, but his conviction was overturned.
Members of both families cried when making their pleas to the board, which decides whether to make clemency recommendations to the governor.
Karen Graham, one of Dunlap's seven children, said her father maintains his innocence and expressed sadness over his status as a prisoner. "We had no voice," Graham said. "We just grew up the children of a murderer."
Members of his family said Dunlap needs assistance to walk and suffers from incontinence, deteriorating vision and worsening diabetes. They also said his sense of balance was damaged after he was assaulted in prison.
Frances Bolles Haynes, one of the reporter's five children, said she has repeatedly felt sadness that her father wasn't alive to witness family milestones. She told the board that Dunlap never took responsibility for the killing. "He must stay in prison until his time is up," she said.