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Judge Rules Bundy Competent, Lambastes Appeals Process As Cumbersome

December 18, 1987

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A federal judge who denounced killer Ted Bundy as ″a diabolical genius″ had equally scathing criticism of appeals that keep death-row inmates in limbo for 10 years or more.

″They either should abolish the death penalty itself or change the (appellate) procedure,″ said U.S. District Judge G. Kendall Sharp.

He argyed that the deterrent effect of the death sentence is diminished by the cumbersome process, and that condemned inmates ″have so many days in court that they’re taking time away from others.″

The judge delivered his angry commentary Thursday while finding that Bundy was mentally competent during his 1980 trial for the kidnap-murder of 12-year- old Kimberly Diane Leach, a junior high school student in Lake City.

Bundy, 40, is ″probably the most competent serial killer in the country at this time,″ Sharp said.

Besides appealing his conviction in Kimberly’s murder, Bundy so far has dodged a death sentence for the 1978 murders of two sorority sisters at Florida State University, and is suspected of dozens of other killings and disappearances of young women.

″Everyone knows that competency is not on trial here. The death penalty is,″ Sharp said.

His comments appaxes″ of records, he said, in determining that Bundy was competent.

Bundy’s lawyers argued successfully before the Atlanta court that they should be allowed to present psychiatrists, former public defenders and other witnesses to testify that the defendant was mentally ill and incapable of helping in his defense.

Sharp must submit a written finding of facts and conclusions to the appellate court.

Bundy lawyer James Coleman said the defense would appeal Sharp’s order. ″We expect to win,″ Coleman said.

Bundy, a former law student with an undergraduate degree in psychology, appeared unfazed at the judge’s description of his character and deeds. Appearing much thinner than during his earlier trials, he chewed gum and smiled during conflicting testimony from psychiatrists.

A psychiatrist testifying for the government called Bundy ″brilliant . . . lucid and compelling″ while a psychiatrist for the defense said he was mentally ill.

Dr. Charles B. Mutter, an expert in forensic psychiatry from Miami, testified Wednesday that everything Bundy did as a defendant and sometime lawyer was well-planned, ″organized, goal-directed.″

If Bundy were manic-depressive, as defense psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Lewis and his lawyers contend, ″that means he is out of touch with reality,″ Mutter said. ″This man has defied and beat two death warrants. Is that insanity?″

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