Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles was fatally injured on June 2, 1976 as he was backing his car out of a Phoenix hotel parking lot when a six-stick dynamite bomb attached to the vehicle was detonated by remote control.
Bolles died 11 days later after both legs and an arm were amputated in an attempt to save his life.
Ultimately three men were charged in the case. John Harvey Adamson, a tow-truck operator, confessed to planting the bomb on Bolles’ car. Adamson said he was hired to plant the bomb by Max Dunlap, a Phoenix contractor and protégé of millionaire liquor wholesaler Kemper Marley Sr. Adamson said Dunlap targeted Bolles because the reporter had written negative articles about Marley. Adamson said Robison, a plumber from Chandler, Arizona, had triggered the bomb with the remote control device.
Adamson pleaded guilty and served 20 years and two months in prison. Dunlap and Robison were tried together beginning on July 6, 1977.
The prosecution’s case was based primarily on the testimony of Adamson, who said Dunlap approached him about killing Bolles and he reached out to Robison, a friend, to help. Adamson said he was paid about $6,000 for his role in the crime.
Both men were convicted on November 6, 1977. Dunlap and Robison were sentenced to death.
In February, 1980, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the convictions, saying the court improperly denied a defense motion to strike Adamson’s testimony because Adamson was allowed to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to answer certain questions posed to him on cross examination.
Later that year, the murder charges against Dunlap and Robison were dismissed without prejudice after Adamson balked at testifying again.
The state then withdrew the original plea bargain with Adamson (which required him to testify at the trials of his co-defendants) and took him to trial for murder. Adamson was convicted and in November 1980 was sentenced to death. That death sentence was overturned in 1988.
In 1990, Dunlap and Robison were charged again in the murder after Adamson agreed to testify against them in return for the reinstatement of his original plea agreement.
Dunlap and Robison were granted separate trials. On April 20, 1993, Dunlap, 64, was convicted and sentenced to life without possibility of parole for 25 years. On December 17, 1993, Robison, now 71 years old, was acquitted by a jury.
Immediately after he was acquitted, federal authorities charged him with soliciting a prison inmate to kill Adamson while awaiting his second trial on the charge of murdering Bolles.
Robison pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison in July 1995. Marley was never charged.
¬– Maurice Possley