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Prisoner Dies for 1980 Drug Slayings in Miami

July 19, 1995

STARKE, Fla. (AP) _ A man convicted of stabbing, beating and torturing four drug dealers who came up short in a cocaine deal was put to death Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected arguments he was framed.

Bernard Bolander, 42, was pronounced dead 10 minutes after his electrocution at Florida State Prison near Starke. The normal time is four to five minutes, and there was no immediate explanation for the delay.

Before he was strapped into the chair, Bolander praised his final team of lawyers, who had argued before the high court that Bolander was framed by a co-defendant. The justices rejected the appeals about a half hour before he was scheduled to die.

``They presented evidence and testimony that could have made me a free man. But it came too late for me,″ he said.

Bolander’s attorneys said they had obtained statements last week from four prisoners who said co-defendant Joseph Macker admitted framing Bolander while in prison.

Macker pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is now free; a third defendant in the case, Paul Thompson, 49, is scheduled to be released from prison in 27 months.

Bolander was condemned for the 1980 killings of John Merino, Scott Bennett, Rudolfo Ayan and Nicomedes Hernandez.

They were to sell 44 pounds of cocaine to Bolander, Macker and Thompson at Macker’s house but had only two pounds with them.

The victims were forced to strip and then were stabbed, beaten with a baseball bat and tortured for several hours. Macker testified that Bolander used a hot knife on one victim’s back.

Merino was still alive when all four were placed in the trunk of a car that was doused with gasoline and set afire on a highway ramp, court records show.

The jury that convicted Bolander recommended life in prison, but Dade Circuit Judge Richard Fuller imposed four death sentences.

Bolander was the 289th person executed in the United States and the 34th in Florida since the Supreme Court allowed restoration of the death penalty in 1976. There have been 32 executions this year nationally but Bolander’s was the first in Florida since April 1994.

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