Bundick enters Alford plea in Eastern Shore arson trial

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by 13News Now & The Associated Press

WVEC.com

Posted on January 14, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 14 at 7:00 PM

VIRGINIA BEACH -- A woman charged in an Eastern Shore arson spree has been convicted on two of 64 counts.

Eastern Shore arsonist suspect Tonya Bundick entered an Alford plea Tuesday in Virginia Beach.

That's a plea in which a defendant acknowledges there was sufficient evidence for conviction but does not admit guilt.

The plea came on the second day of Bundick's jury trial for arson and conspiracy to commit arson in connection with an April fire in Melfa.

Bundick is accused of setting dozens of fires on the Eastern Shore last year.  Her trial was moved to Virginia Beach because the judge said it would be too difficult to find a fair jury.

Bundick was initially charged with setting one fire in Accomack County but  was later indicted on 64 total charges.

Bundick faces up to 20 years in prison. Neither a sentencing date nor a trial date for the remaining 62 counts has been set.

Bundick's boyfriend, Charles Smith III, pleaded guilty in October to 67 arson counts and one count of conspiracy. Smith testified against Bundick on Monday.

Investigators allege the couple is responsible for most of the 77 arsons on the Eastern Shore from November 2012 to April, when they were arrested.

During testimony, Bundick admitted she dropped Smith off and picked him up about 25 feet from the house in Melfa that had been set on fire.  She said they drove together toward the main road and were swarmed by police.  She testified she had nothing to do with the crime. 

Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin took the stand and testified that Smith openly admitted to setting some of the fires.  According to Godwin, Smith also said that Bundick was involved in setting the fires. 

Bundick's attorney tells 13News Now's Arrianee LeBeau that sentencing could take place in April, pending a pre-sentencing report. She will remain in custody in Accomack County until sentencing.

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