VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A shocking change in tune as Tonya Bundick went from defending her innocence to an Alford plea in just a span of several minutes.
One of Bundick's defense attorneys Alex Zaleski says the plea means that the commonwealth's evidence was strong, but Bundick still maintains she's not guilty.
"She understands the process, understands the procedure, understands what remains ahead of her," said Alex Zaleski.
In the hours leading up to the decision, the Accomack County woman testified, discussing in detail the night Smith set fire to the Melfa home on Airport Road.
She told the court she "did not know" Smith would set the house on fire.
"I would have certainly never have headed that way," Bundick said to jurors.
Earlier Tuesday morning, the defense attempted to prove that Smith was a man trying to hold onto his love. Alex Zaleski cross-examined the convicted felon and shared letters sent from Smith to his lover in the courtroom.
One letter read, "I want you to wear a ring so people know you were taken." Another, "[I'm] doing things to cut my time."
Smith refuted his reasoning in court saying "he's just here to tell the truth."
This testimony came a day after Smith answered prosecution questions saying Bundick not only knew of the fires, but burned down the first abandoned building sparking the spree of more than seventy.
But after hearing more than six hours of evidence jury was told their service was no longer needed.
What remains to be heard,what happens with the remaining 62 counts?
"There has been no decision," said Alex Zaleski. "It does not resolve those additional charges. They are still outstanding. At some point, we'll get the commonwealth attorney [Gary Agar] together and decide what we're going to do on those charges.
"I know the judge is away for a few months. If a deal is struck, it would probably be sometime in the next month or two. If they do go to trial, probably April, May or June timeframe and I anticipate severing those [other charges] again, so it wouldn't be one trial with, so we would potentially have additional multiple trials."
WMDT spoke with Bundick's other lawyer Allan Zaleski after the trial ended. The elder Zaleski told us that he expected the jury would find her guilty, which he says, would then punish her for her pending charges, even without a prior criminal record.
Our calls to Agar have yet to be returned. Sentencing has been delayed until a pre-sentencing report is complete.
Alex Zaleski says it is unlikely that they appeal a bond that and she will head back to Eastern Shore Regional jail.
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