Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) – Eastern Shore arson suspect Tonya Bundick went on trial in Virginia Beach Monday.
A jury of fourteen was selected, with twelve jurors and two alternates consisting of eight women and six men.
Bundick is on trial for one count of arson and one count of conspiracy to commit arson relating to a fire set on Airport Drive in Melfa in Accomack County on April 1, 2013.
She was indicted on 62 additional counts by a grand jury in December; however Monday’s trial was only for the April 1st fire in Melfa.
Bundick had been set to go on trial in Accomack County, however Judge Glen Tyler approved a change of venue request that moved it to Virginia Beach.
After opening statements, Accomack County Commonwealth’s Attorney Gary Agar called nine witnesses before Judge Tyler recessed for the day.
Among the witnesses were Virginia State Troopers who were doing surveillance at the home on Airport Drive on the night of April 1st.
They described seeing Charlie Smith, Bundick’s co-defendant, jump out of van and set the home on fire before returning to the van driven by Bundick.
A member of the Melfa volunteer fire department also testified, describing efforts to put out the fire inside the home of Claud Henry who also took the stand.
Agar also called Sgt. Wayne Greer of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police Trooper Martin Smith, who initiated the traffic stop on the van driven by Bundick a short distance away from the scene of the fire.
Accomack County Sheriff Todd Godwin also testified about speaking with Charlie Smith at the scene of the traffic stop.
By far the most emotional testimony of the day came when Smith himself took the stand, testifying against Bundick.
At times he wiped away tears and kept his head lowered as he told the court he still loved Bundick, who he says at one time was his fiancée.
“I still love her,” Smith said at one point while on the witness stand.
He also described how Bundick set the early fires during a spree of more than 70 fires that Virginia State Police say started in November 2012 and ended with the arrests on the night of April 1st.
Smith testified that during the spree, Bundick nearly got caught, prompting him to begin setting them himself to protect her.
The night they were arrested, Smith told the court they left home around 8:30, leaving Bundick’s two sons aged 11 and 13 home alone.
The house he ended up setting on fire was one he didn’t want to, saying he thought the number of cars in the area meant it was a set-up.
However, they stopped anyway, he said, with Smith getting out and running to the back of the home and stuffing a rag in the wall and setting it on fire.
He then called Bundick on a cell phone advising her to come pick him up, he told the court.
Judge Tyler recessed court for the day before Bundick’s attorneys had a chance to cross-examine Smith.
That will happen Tuesday morning when the trial continues in Virginia Beach.