Chloroform killer fights to dodge the firing squad
An expat facing a firing squad for killing a man is trying to get off death row by insisting he never intended to kill his victim and that he is filled with remorse for what happened.
An expat facing execution in Sharjah for the murder of a German engineer has sent a message to his victim’s relatives - urging them to take “solace” from the fact the man’s death was not pre-meditated. Muslim convert Shahid King Bolsen, from the US, killed 58-year-old Martin Herbert Steiner in 2006 with a lethal dose of the powerful anaesthetic chloroform.
Bolsen and his Ethiopian maid were accused of luring married Steiner to Bolsen’s Sharjah home with promises of sex. He claims Steiner got aggressive and he administered the lethal drug to stop him. In his battle to avoid the firing squad Bolsen, a father of four, made an emotional statement in which he admitted his crime but claims it was unintentional, saying: “I’m not guilty of murder, I’m not a threat to society.”
A spokeswoman for the London-based Detained in Dubai, which has taken up Bolsen’s case, said it has written to the courts to ask for the death penalty to be overturned. She said: “No court can be 100 per cent certain of whether Shahid is guilty of murder or whether it is manslaughter. If the charges are reduced to manslaughter, Shahid will not face death. He has a wife and four children and we urge the courts to review the sentence.”
Speaking publicly for the first time since the June 2006 slaying, Bolsen, 40, declared: “I’m not guilty of murder by any means and I’m not a threat to society.”
Bolsen, who admitted killing Martin Herbert Steiner, claimed from his cell in Sharjah Prison that Steiner’s death was “unexpected”.
As he attempts to avoid the death penalty, by having his crime reduced to manslaughter, Bolsen even brought the 58-year-old victim’s family into his plan. In a message to the relatives, he says the fact that it wasn’t murder should give them “solace” and reduce their trauma.
Bolsen claims he was merely trying to talk them out of their sinful ways. It’s claimed that when he spoke to Steiner, the victim got aggressive and Bolsen gave him chloroform, a powerful anaesthetic, which killed the engineer. Bolsen said he had the drug in the house to help him sleep. The maid later claimed Bolsen told her to thank Allah for “an infidel is dead”.
Bolsen admitted bundling Steiner’s body into a blue suitcase and putting it in the boot of his victim’s Mazda car. He started to flee the country but before the dad of four got to the Oman border, had second thoughts so he dumped the suitcase at the side of the Dubai-Hatta Road and went back to Sharjah. He then went on a Dhs20,000 spending spree with Steiner’s credit card.
After confessing to the killing, Bolsen took the police to the body and was eventually sentenced to death in 2007. He is still trying to plead a case of manslaughter to escape the firing squad and has enlisted the help of justice organisation Detained in Dubai to campaign for him.
Speaking from Sharjah Prison, Bolsen sent a message to Steiner’s wife, Christina, and family via a statement to Detained in Dubai. It says: “It is important that his family know that their son, father, husband was not murdered. Just for their own solace when they remember him, I think it makes the trauma of their loss much worse if they believe he was murdered.
“Any loss of a loved one is painful but I think that must be unbearable so I’d want them to know the truth. His death was an unforeseeable, unexpected, and absolutely unintended tragedy.
“It was completely and radically opposite of my wishes toward him. Nothing could have been further from my intention; I grieve for what happened to him and for the loss but I hope there may be some kind of consolation in knowing the truth.”
Turning to his own feelings when he realised he’d killed Steiner, Bolsen, who was born Shannon Morris into a Roman Catholic family in Colorado in the US, said: “All of the words I use to describe how I felt when I realised he was dead are inadequate.
“Shock, horror, disbelief, and panic can only express a fraction of it. It was like the bottom fell out of my existence. I was stunned and confused and everything became surreal.
“Even now when I remember it I feel waves of panic. My nerves and senses became muffled and fuzzy; it was like the shock had knocked me out of my body and I was miles away from what was going on.”
He goes on: “I am haunted by regret about everything that happened that led up to that tragedy but I’m not guilty of murder by any means and I’m not a threat to society.”
He goes on to list charity work he’s done and says he organises religious and educational programmes for inmates in Sharjah jail. He adds: “I accept that I deserve punishment for what happened and in Islamic law there is a category for manslaughter with its own penalty ruling.
“It seems to me that this is applicable in my case and I think that would be fair.”