Ted Bundy’s lawyers shares their thoughts about their client and the trials :
Mike Minerva (Assigned public defender for the Chi Omega trial. Bundy fired him before it started ) :
“No, I don’t think he was a psychopath. I think he was severely, deeply mentally ill. Psychotic. I always believed that.”
“I believe he has a basic defect in his reasoning process which prevents him from reviewing the case in a realistic manner. Ted was keeping everybody off balance, and demanded that his entire defense team come to see him for several hours each night, in visits that served no purpose but to keep him from being alone.”
About the plea deal : “We went through the whole thing with him, and his mother talked to him, and Carole Boone talked to him. They all were trying to convince him that it was OK with them…because they were going to still believe that he was innocent, that he was entering a plea so he could stay alive. He agreed to it. And then he comes in the very next morning and takes it all back in open court. I don’t know. That’s over my head. I don’t know why he rejected it.”
Jim Coleman (Death Row lawyer from 1986 to 1989):
« I think we understood why he did what he did. We knew it was a product of a mental illness. Just being with him long enough, you saw it.… His mind didn’t function rationally: on any level, on anything. I think he always viewed himself as being two personalities, in effect. One good and one bad. He viewed the good Bundy’s role as protector of the bad Bundy, because that was the only way to protect the good Bundy… So denying that he was guilty—I don’t think, in his mind, he was doing anything contradictory. He really did believe it. »
« When Bundy sabotaged the plea agreement, it was pretty clear at that point that there was something going on that was related to mental illness, and that this was not a rational thing that he had done: trying to fire his lawyers on the grounds that they didn’t believe in his innocence, when he was about to plead guilty. »
Joe Nursey ( Assigned public defender after Bundy’s Pensacola arrest) :
“He was mentally ill. Anybody who looks at it with any degree of honesty knows that he was mentally ill. The better question, does the term Psychopath have any real meaning?’ And it doesn’t.”
Polly Nelson (Death Row lawyer from 1986 to 1989) :
« You know, ‘psychopath’ to me implies some kind of evil motivation, like an evil corporation knowingly polluting. And I don’t see that in Ted. He was much more like an addict. »
« It’s funny how he’s still the poster boy for serial killers after all these years. Not that he’d be unhappy with that. He would much rather go down as a brilliant, manipulative serial killer than a disturbed individual, out of control and sad. You’re going to be ruining it. That was worth a lot to him. »
« Contrary to Ted’s description of an idyllic family background, his grandfather had been a violent and bizarre man who beat his wife and talked aloud to unseen presences. Ted’s grandmother had been hospitalized for depression several times and treated with electroshock therapy. Eventually, the family had conspired to get Ted and his mother out of his grandfather’s house—and out to Seattle to start a new life but Ted’s mother denied there had been any problems. »
« If there was anything he was ashamed of, it was that. Any kind of contact he had with the body after death. He couldn’t wrap any story around that. »
Ed Harvey (Chi Omega trial. Harvey wanted to resigned but Cowart wouldn’t let him) :
« He’s much better in small groups than large ones… He talks and acts like a normal person. That’s why it’s very hard to deal with this image of a psychotic savage. That isn’t the Ted Bundy I know. »
“ He felt like he could detach himself — get up and play lawyer, then sit down and play the defendant — and that usually doesn’t work.”
“ At the beginning of the trial I thought he could get a fair trial, but I’ve presented a lot of cases where I had a lot less to work with than in this case, where the state put on a better case, and the jury found… not guilty. This evidence to convict was terrible in terms of what evidence got in front of the jury in court. Very weak. But because the defendant was Ted Bundy, I had the feeling at the end they’d find him guilty unless we proved him innocent beyond a reasonable doubt. “
“I think what happened with Ted Bundy is that we didn’t have a chance or we didn’t have the atmosphere to present the case to people who would look just at what was put in front go them and say, is this enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? I don’t think he got that kind of trial.”
Lynn Thompson (Lake City Case) :
“ In private, he’s a very human person. He doesn’t always come off that way when he talks.”
“ He was of great assistance in analyzing the case, but his participation in the court has proven to be very detrimental to him. You can’t be an intelligent, sharp, tricky or whatever kind of attorney, and a defendant at the same time in a murder case.”
Robert Haggard (Chi Omega trial. Haggard resigned before the end of the trial):
« Vanity was his Achille heel. It was more important to him to have the publicity than whether he lived or died.
Bundy wanted to prove to them what a smart lawyer he was, but he wound up proving to the jury what a smart criminal he was.
The problem I had with Bundy from the beginning is that I wasn’t going to let him control the case. I don’t think you should let the client run his own case.
First of all, he doesn’t have the experience to do it. The second reason is that he has real poor judgment. Just from the psychological point of view, his perception of the evidence is distorted. He may be able to rationally talk about the evidence, but on a emotional level he doesn’t perceive the real inculpatory character of the evidence. He just ignores it or denies that it exists.
We had a pretty good jury. What happened was the defendant alienated them… It caused us to waste a good jury.
I think we could have had a good result, had Ted just sat dow and kept his mouth shut, because the evidence was not that great. The eye-witness (Nita Neary) was real tenuous and the scientific evidence was inconclusive. »