MIAMI -- Serial killer Ted Bundy's plea for a stay of execution and a new trial were rejected by the trial judge today and his lawyer immediately appealed to the Florida Supreme Court to halt Wednesday's scheduled execution.
Dade County Circuit Court Judge Edward Cowart said in his refusal that Bundy's lawyers failed to prove any omissions or overt acts that were significant enough to change the outcome of the original trial, presided over by Cowart.
James Coleman, Bundy's lawyer, immediately filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court to block the execution.
Barring intervention by the high court or the federal courts, Bundy will die in the electric chair at 7 a.m. EDT Wednesday for the 1978 bludgeon murders of Florida State University sorority sisters Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman.
Bundy, 39, also was convicted of the murder of a 12-year-old girl in Florida and is suspected of killing up to 36 other women in four Western states.
Coleman claimed in his appeal that Bundy had ineffective legal representation during his trial and had not received an adequate hearing into his mental competency.
Coleman cited a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court last week holding that defendants have the right to cross-examine psychiatrists who testify about their mental competency.
A psychiatrist who testified during the original trial about Bundy's competence was not questioned by Bundy's lawyers.
Assistant Florida Attorney General Gregory Costas argued that the issues of adequate representation and mental competence were -- or should have been -- addressed during Bundy's previous appeals. He also noted that Bundy acted as co-counsel in his 1979 trial before Cowart, helping to represent himself during the trial, cross-examining witnesses and making decisions on how his defense would be run.
Costas dismissed the claim of inadquate legal representation as 'the results of his own handiwork.'
'A good part of the problems he's complaining about are the result of his own action,' Costas said.
He said Bundy prevented his lawyers from claiming during the trial that he was mentally incompetent.
'Mr. Bundy himself opposed any competency hearing,' Costas said. 'Mr. Bundy did not want to be found incompetent.'
During the 1978 trial, Cowart appointed a psychiatrist who examined Bundy and the judge cautioned him several times that 'a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.'
Coleman argued that the very fact the judge, himself, questioned Bundy's competency should have raised doubts over the issue.
Bundy also was convicted and condemned for murdering 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, a straight-A student he abducted from Lake City Middle School in 1978.
The girl's father, Tom Leach, said he would like to witness the execution of the man who raped and murdered his daughter, but state officials will not allow it.
'I just want to see him well-done,' Leach said in an interview published Sunday. 'I wish they'd bring him back to Lake City and let us all have at him.'
Leach, who owns a tow truck service, said he and his wife will celebrate Bundy's execution, but he does not know how.
'Get drunk, I imagine, and I don't even drink.'
More than half of Lake City's 10,000 residents signed petitions last February asking the governor to sign a death warrant for Bundy in the Leach case.
'The whole town kind of took it personally,' said Tim Darby, one of Kimberly's classmates who now works at the motel where Bundy stayed the night before abducting the girl.
Members of the Chi Omega sorority house in Tallahassee, where a computerized security system was installed after Bundy's rampage, also awaited Bundy's execution.
'We are hoping that the execution is going to be carried out,' said Kirk Bell Cocke, national president of Chi Omega. 'We want to just get his name out of the papers and go on with our lives.'
On July 2, 1976, the Supreme Court affirmed, in a landmark 7-2 ruling, that the death penalty did not violate the Constitution's ban on 'cruel and unusual' punishment. The court had barred capital punishment in 1972.