Testimony begins in Tonya Bundick’s second arson trial

Posted at 7:44 AM, Jul 14, 2014

Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) - The second trial against Eastern Shore arson suspect Tonya Bundick got underway in Virginia Beach Monday.

A jury of 14 people - 12 jurors and 2 alternates - was selected Monday morning.

That jury consists of 8 women and 6 men.

Bundick is on trial facing a charge of arson for a March 3, 2013 fire at a home on Pungoteague Road outside of Keller in Accomack County.

The property owner testified that he used the building, which was vacant at the time, to house laborers for his farm.

In addition to that property owner, Accomack County Commonwealth Attorney Gary Agar called to the stand a volunteer firefighter who helped fight the fire, two Virginia State Police Special Agents who investigated it and a Verizon Wireless records custodian to discuss cell phone records.

Arguably though, the most important testimony for prosecutors came from Charlie Smith.

He's Bundick's co-defendant and former fiancee who entered guilty pleas to 68 counts of arson and conspiracy last October and is still awaiting sentencing .

On the stand, Smith testified that on the night of March 3, 2013, he and Bundick drove around Accomack County looking for something to burn.

He said they decided on the house on Pungoteague Road, where Bundick dropped him off.

Smith said he then went inside and lit cardboard boxes and deflated soccer balls he found in the attic on fire using a lighter before calling Bundick back to come pick him up.

He told the court he and Bundick listened to a scanner app on her cell phone while driving home.

At point in court he exclaimed that he would rather wrap a sheet around his neck and jump off something than live without Bundick.

He did admit when questioned that he was "praying" for a lighter sentence for himself by testifying against Bundick.

The Commonwealth rested its case shortly before 4:30 p.m.

Only one defense witness was called before the trial ended for the day.

That was Reverend Frank Dickerson, who on cross-examination, described himself as Bundick's current boyfriend.

He told the court he knew Bundick to be "brutally honest" and didn't think she was the type of person who would set a fire.

Bundick is expected to take the stand in her defense Tuesday when the trial resumes at 9a.m. in Virginia Beach.

This trial is just for a single count of arson.

Bundick entered a plea of not guilty to the 62 additional counts of arson that a Grand Jury indicted her on last December.

Judge Glen Tyler ruled earlier this year that each count will be tried separately.

In her first trial in January, Bundick entered an Alford Plea after two days of testimony.

That meant that while she was not admitting guilt, she acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict her.

The case was moved to Virginia Beach because Judge Tyler said it would be too difficult to seat a jury since so many in the county were directly or indirectly impacted by the fires.

State Police say Bundick helped Smith set dozens of fires on the Eastern Shore between November 2012 and April 2013.

Stay with NewsChannel 3 for continuing coverage on this case.


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