Convict wants life sentence commuted - East Valley Tribune: Phoenix & The Valley Of The Sun

Convict wants life sentence commuted

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Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:16 am | Updated: 10:51 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

PHOENIX - A Phoenix contractor serving a life prison sentence for the 1976 murder of a newspaper reporter is asking the state for clemency.

Max Dunlap, 78, isn't eligible for parole until December 2014 but wants to have his sentence commuted because of declining health.

Dunlap says he's incontinent from diabetes and that he can barely walk because he suffered a head injury when attacked by other inmates.

"I will go home to my wife and purchase nursing care," Dunlap wrote in his application for commutation. "I don't believe I'm long for this Earth."

Dunlap won't be present Friday when the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency hears from friends and family on both sides of the case.

The board could deny the request. Should a majority of the five-member board decide there's merit to the discussion, it will schedule a second hearing this summer to interview Dunlap.

However, the board cannot commute Dunlap's sentence. It can only make a recommendation for Gov. Janet Napolitano's approval.

Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles died 11 days after a remote-controlled bomb was detonated beneath his car in the parking lot of a central Phoenix hotel on June 2, 1976.

Three men were eventually convicted in the slaying - Dunlap, John Adamson and James Robison.

Adamson, who authorities said placed the bomb under Bolles' car, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case and was eventually released from prison in 1996. He died in 2002.

Robison, accused of triggering the bomb, was found guilty of first-degree murder but his conviction was eventually overturned.

Dunlap's first murder conviction was overturned after he served two years on death row. He was convicted a second time in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison with a chance of parole after 25 years.

"I am truly sorry for getting involved with those men," Dunlap wrote in his application for commutation. "And I am sorry for the newspaperman."

Bolles' family objects to the clemency petition.

Cathy Bolles said her father "was taken away from us when he was 47. I was 13.

"I'm sorry if I don't sound like I have pity for him (Dunlap) but my father got no mercy," she added. "When you put someone in prison for life, I think that's where they should stay."

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