Some could say it was overkill that Ted Bundy received three death sentences. Doesn't one do the job? Why exactly did he receive three different death sentences for his crimes? Well, there was a reason the serial killer, who murdered more than 30 women, had different trials and multiple sentences applied to him.
Bundy's first two death sentences came in a pair, from his first murder trial, held in Florida.
On July 23, 1979, Bundy was found guilty of killing two female students at Florida State University. Both women — Margaret Bowman and Lisa Levy — were bludgeoned to death in their sorority house during the early morning hours of Jan. 15, 1978, a 1989 Chicago Tribune article reports.
A few days after he was found guilty, on July 28, a jury decided his punishment should be death, one for each victim.
But authorities didn't stop there.
A year later, in 1980, Bundy went on trial in Florida again. This time, it was for the 1978 rape and killing of 12-year-old Kimberly Diane Leach, who is often referred to as the serial killer’s most horrific crime. She’s also believed to be Bundy’s final murder victim.
The seventh-grader stood at just 5 feet and weighed only 100 pounds. Ann Rule’s 1980 true crime novel about Bundy, entitled “The Stranger Beside Me: The True Crime Story of Ted Bundy,” describes the day she was abducted: Feb. 9, 1978. It was a gusty, rainy day in Lake City, Florida but the little girl was in a sunny mood. She had just been elected as the first runner-up to the Valentine Queen at her junior high school’s upcoming dance, a dance she would never attend. Leach vanished from the school that day, when Bundy kidnapped her in a white van before raping and killing her. Her body was later found in an abandoned hog shed.
Her murder shocked the nation, and the authorities wanted Bundy's sentencing to serve justice for the little girl and her family.
Dr. Scott Bonn, criminologist and author of “Why We Love Serial Killers: The Curious Appeal of the World's Most Savage Murderers,” told Oxygen.com that it’s not unusual for killers to receive consecutive sentences, one for each murder victim.
“Typically, authorities do that out of respect for each victim and their loved ones — that is, every victim deserves justice,” he explained. “That is why Dennis Rader (known as the BTK killer) received 10 consecutive life sentences, for example. One for each of his victims.”
As documented in the new Netflix docuseries, “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” though, Columbia County Prosecutor George Dekle explained that he was criticized for “wasting the county’s money prosecuting him when he’s already got the death penalty.”
The Bundy case was Dekle’s first murder prosecution, and he insisted that the more death sentences Bundy received, the better, in order to “make sure he was executed.”
Dekle called the strategy of the trial for Leach’s murder “simple.” He said they had witnesses, including ones who saw him loading the seventh grader into a white van. Blood was found in the white van that Bundy was driving, and had the same blood type as Leach. Fibers were also found in the van that Dekle said belonged to Leach’s clothing.
“There was mountains of evidence against him,” he surmised.
Despite Dekle approaching the trial as “simple,” Bundy, who acted as his own lawyer once again, did not. Dekle described him as arrogant throughout the trial. Not only did Bundy compare himself to Jesus, but he even got married in the courtroom to one of his witnesses, who he was dating. He wedded Carole Ann Boone, taking advantage of an obscure Florida law that said a marriage declaration in front of a judge counted as a marriage.
Dekle called the wedding a “ploy” to avoid another death sentence because “how could you possibly vote the death penalty on my wedding day?”
Well, the jury did, and they did it fast. It took them just 45 minutes of deliberation to decide, once again, that Bundy must die.
Dekle was elated that another death sentence was tacked on to Bundy's death sentence list.
“I feel that there are some people, who by the enormity of their crimes, forfeit the right to live,” Dekle said in the docu-series. “He is such an evil person who had done so much harm, hurt so many good people. He’s just a piece of garbage in the shape of a human being.”
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