U.S. on a federal execution spree and a lone Canadian sits on death row: Robert Bolden’s untold story

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“As Robert’s life stressors increased, exacerbating his mental illness, he spent a lot of his time in the basement of this house, smoking crack, drinking alcohol, and huffing turpentine when alcohol and crack were not available,” says the psychiatrist’s report.

Leading up to the botched robbery, Bolden was sick, in and out of hospital — he’d been diabetic his whole life and had never been successful at controlling the disease. Days before the robbery, he learned he was going to be evicted.

While addiction, mental illness and abuse can be mitigating factors at trial and sentencing, the prosecutor, wasn’t buying it.

“Robert Bolden did not kill Nathan Ley because of a troubled youth or problems at home,” Holtshouser said in his closing arguments. “He killed him as part of a robbery to get money. He didn’t kill him because of diabetes. There is just no insulin at the bank. He was there for money.”

On Aug. 25, 2006, Robert Bolden was sentenced to die.

Linda Ley, Nathan’s mother, said it was a “just and fair sentence.”

“Mr. Bolden just spoke of a belief in Christ and forgiveness of sin, and if he truly believes that, he should not fear his own death on this Earth,” said Linda Ley. “He should look forward to the time when he can face God, face my son, and apologize.”

Most federal death row prisoners are housed at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute, Indiana, also the home of the federal death chamber. Bolden, though, isn’t. Because of his medical issues, in June 2016, Bolden was transferred to a special medical prison in Springfield, Missouri.

U.S. on a federal execution spree and a lone Canadian sits on death row: Robert Bolden's untold story