WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court today reinstated the death sentence of John Harvey Adamson for murdering newspaper reporter Don Bolles in Arizona in 1976.
In a 5-4 ruling, the court said Adamson, initially given a 20-year prison sentence, properly was resentenced to death after he broke a plea-bargaining agreement to testify against others allegedly involved in the case.
Justice Byron R. White, writing for the court, said Adamson was not subject to "double jeopardy"--being tried twice for the same crime--when he was retried on a first-degree murder charge and sentenced to die in Arizona's gas chamber.
Adamson's "breach of the plea arrangement . . . removed the double jeopardy bar to prosecution on the first-degree murder charge," White said.
Adamson, as he was about to stand trial initially, pleaded guilty in 1977 to second-degree murder in Bolles' killing.
Prosecutors said Adamson was paid $10,000 to attach a bomb to Bolles' car in a murder plot against the reporter, who had been investigating organized crime in Arizona. Bolles, who worked for the Arizona Republic in Phoenix, died June 11, 1976, nine days after the explosion.
Arizona Atty. Gen. Bob Corbin said Adamson has other avenues of appeal, but he noted, "We're moving him back to the head of the list" of people facing execution.