Nearly 20 years after Douglas Max Boldt pleaded guilty to killing his infant daughter, the Yavapai County man has failed at his eighth attempt to back out of a plea deal that netted him a life sentence instead of a possible death penalty.
Court records show a medical examiner testified Boldt’s daughter, who was only three months old, was struck twice in the head with such force that accidental trauma was ruled out as a cause of her May 2001 death. The child was in Boldt’s sole care at the time of her injuries.
Boldt, now 52, agreed to plead guilty at the time to first-degree murder in exchange for the Yavapai County Attorney’s Office not seeking the death penalty. He admitted in court to throwing his daughter into her crib “a couple of times” in such a way that she hit a wooden headboard.
The impact caused a skull fracture which led to the baby’s death, according to the medical examiner.
However, Boldt informed a Yavapai County Superior Court judge prior to sentencing that he wanted to withdraw from the plea deal and go to trial instead. Boldt claimed his guilty plea was entered “under duress” because of a fear of the death penalty.
The judge rejected Boldt’s claim and in April 2002 sentenced him to natural life in prison. Since then Boldt has filed eight petitions for post-conviction relief with the superior court, raising myriad claims such as alleged actual innocence, ineffective assistance of counsel, inadequate factual basis, and newly discovered evidence.
Each petition has been denied by the Yavapai County court, including Boldt’s most recent filing in August 2019, more than 18 years after his daughter’s death.
The 2019 petition asked for an evidentiary hearing at which Boldt could put forth “newly discovered evidence” showing the construction of the crib would not have caused the infant’s fatal injury. Judge Thomas K. Kelly denied the petition, after which Boldt filed a petition for review to the Arizona Court of Appeals.
In its Sept. 28, 2020 decision, a three-judge appellate panel reviewed Boldt’s petition for review but unanimously denied his requested relief. The panel included the chief judge and presiding judge of the court of appeals in Tucson.
“We will not disturb that order unless the court abused its discretion,” the decision noted. “Even if we disregard that these claims have been repeatedly raised and rejected and are thus subject to preclusion…the trial court did not err in summarily dismissing Boldt’s most recent effort to obtain post-conviction relief.”
The appellate decision also noted Boldt’s claim of newly discovered evidence regarding the crib failed because “any discrepancy between the victim’s injuries and the crib’s construction could have been discovered before sentencing.”
Public records from the Arizona Department of Corrections show Boldt works as a cook at the Arizona State Prison Complex – Eyman in Florence.