Before the trial is over, defense attorney Murray Miller must convince the jury that the guilty man is not Max Dunlap but a sinister, alcohol-deranged lawyer named Neal Roberts.

All of this will take more than three months in the courtroom of Judge Norman Hall. Prosecuting attorneys Fred Newton and Warren Granville will insist that Dunlap paid for the killing of Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles.

Miller will insist that it was Roberts, who was clever enough and devious enough to obtain a grant of immunity from Phoenix police in exchange for his promised help in pointing out the killer.

Roberts promptly pointed the finger at Dunlap. Miller says Roberts framed Dunlap to save himself.

Who is Neal Roberts? Roberts was a friend of Dunlap's at North High School in the late 1940s. Back in those days, the six-foot-four Roberts was a member of the basketball team. Dunlap played both football and basketball. He was an outstanding athlete and one of the most popular students on campus. After finishing school, Dunlap eventually caught the eye of Kemper Marley, then one of the most powerful men in the state. With Marley's help, Dunlap became a sometimes-affluent contractor.

Roberts went to law school and was admitted to the bar on March 15, 1955. He worked for both the county attorney and the Attorney General's Office before setting up practice in central Phoenix.

By all accounts, even Miller's, Roberts was a clever lawyer. During the 1970s, Roberts began spending big chunks of time in a place called the Ivanhoe Bar, then located a block east of Park Central Mall, at 3033 North Central. The bar no longer exists.

It was a hangout for lawyers, judges, newspapermen and various sociopaths. The only apparent requirement for membership in this society was the ability to drink heavily. John Harvey Adamson and Brad Funk were among the regulars. Funk was a member of the family that owned the greyhound racing tracks. Adamson worked at the tracks. At other times, he got paid for towing away cars. Jimmy Robison was another regular. They called him "The Plumber," because he could do anything for you. Robison was willing to take on all sorts of jobs. Did you want a building bombed? Did you want someone beaten up? Did you want a reporter blown to bits as a lesson to everyone else? If so, Jimmy was your man. So was Adamson.

Roberts was Dunlap's lawyer at the time. Roberts was also friendly with Funk, who was one of his drinking companions.

Miller must convince the jury that Roberts and Funk conspired together to murder Bolles. The Republic reporter had been writing a large number of stories exposing the dog-racing industry in Arizona.

A defense witness will be Sam Steiger, the former congressman, who conducted hearings about the Funk family and Arizona racing. Bolles testified against the Funks before Steiger's committee.

Adamson will appear this time to testify against Dunlap, but he has in the past testified against Roberts.

Adamson has told juries that Roberts hired him for the January 26, 1976, bombing of a building at 807 East Indian School. Roberts was a part-owner of the building. Adamson and Robison created a 42-stick dynamite bomb for the job. But it was discovered before it went off.

It will be Miller's contention that since Roberts hired Adamson and Robison to bomb a building in January, it was therefore logical to assume that it was also Roberts who hired them to blow up Bolles' car the following summer. Roberts was tried twice for the Indian School bombing in 1978. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. Convicted the second time, Roberts' case was overthrown on appeal.

Tried again in 1981, Roberts was acquitted.
In the early days of the investigation of the Bolles killing, it was Roberts who supplied Adamson with an alibi and arranged for him to fly out of town.

Roberts has been suspended from practicing law since November 12, 1990. He was brought up on charges that he took money from clients and failed to properly represent them.

Roberts pleaded incapacity due to alcoholism. He was ordered not to consume liquor for two years and to submit to a sobriety test every month for that period. He was also ordered to attend meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous four times a week, and to abstain from visiting places where liquor is served.

Since that time, Roberts has been seen frequently at a bar called Chez Nous on Seventh Avenue, and at Garnett's Lounge a block to the north. He has also been arrested for drunk driving.

This is a case in which Miller's opening statement has a ring of truth.
"Everyone in this case," Miller said, "drank a quart of liquor a day.

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Tom Fitzpatrick