ACCOMACK COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – The woman accused of setting fire to dozens of buildings in Accomack County will have 62 separate trials.
Tonya Bundick was arraigned on 61 of the counts May 16 and she pleaded not guilty to them all. During Friday’s hearing the judge also granted a change of venue, saying it made sense because there are so many counts and because it both directly and indirectly affected people in Accomack County.
In April, a judge issued an order in Accomack County denying the Commonwealth’s motion to join all 62 counts of arson into one trial.
“The Court finds that there are 62 separate counts of arson in defendant’s indictment; that the Commonwealth and defendant have not agreed upon joinder of any two or more of them for trial at this time; that justice requires separate trials where the Commonwealth contemplates joinder of all 62 counts; that the offenses are not based on the same act or transaction, and that there is no common scheme or plan…Accordingly, it is ORDERED that the Commonwealth’s motion for joinder of the 62 counts for trial is denied, the order said.”
10 On Your Side crunched the numbers and found Bundick’s trials could cost Accomack County taxpayers more than they ever imagined. One bench trial with Bundick’s court-appointed attorney would cost a minimum of $1,080. A jury trial would have to be moved to Virginia Beach and would cost about $2,700, plus travel expenses for the Accomack clerk and deputies.
62 separate bench trials would cost about $67,000, while 62 jury trials would rack up about $171,000, plus those travel expenses. And those are minimum estimates.
Bundick has been charged in connection to a rash of arsons along the Eastern Shore. Her co-defendant, Charles Smith III, previously pleaded guilty to his own charges.
A motion date has been set for the morning of June 10.