5:30 PMTUESDAYUPDATE: Tonya Bundick was found guilty on an arson count related to the March 2013 fire that destroyed a labor camp in AccomackCounty.

The jury has recommended a 3 1/2 year prison sentence with no chance of parole and a $10,000 fine. Ajudge will officially sentence Bundick in September.

The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before coming back with their guilty verdict.

7/15 UPDATE: The defense for accused Eastern Shore arson suspect Tonya Bundick spent Tuesday morning trying to discredit the testimony of Bundick's former boyfriend,Charles Smith, who testified against her as part of a plea deal for his role in the fires.

Charles Smith's cell mate testified that Smith told him that he set the fires alone because it turned him on sexually.He also says the commonwealth provided Smith with MountainDew and cigarettes in order to convince him to testify against Bundick.

The witness also testified that Smith told him he took the reflectors off his kids bicycle so he would not be detected at night and he rode that bike to set the fire.

Bundick herself testified that she did not have any part in the fires.She testified that she believes struggled with drugs after his mom died.

Bundick says she still cares about Smith but is no longer in love with him.

The jury will begin deliberations in the case after a lunch break.

13News Now'sKarenHopkins is in court and will update this story throughout the day.

VIRGINIA BEACH -- Convicted Accomack County arsonist Tonya Bundick's second trial got underway Monday in a Virginia Beach courtroom Monday.

Charles Smith, her former boyfriend testified that he still loves Tonya Bundick, and he would rather commit suicide than lose her.

He said that he set the fires because Bundick wanted him too, and the arsons made her happy. He would do anything to keep her.

On March 3, he said Bundick drove his van and they picked out a vacant house in Accomack to burn. She dropped him off, and he set a cardboard box on fire in the attic of the home. Once the fire started, he called Bundick's cell phone so she could pick him up.

They drove home together, listening to the police scanner application on Bundick's cell phone.

Bundick's defense argued that Smith is implicating Bundick because he doesn't want her to be free to date other men. Also, that Smith thinks he will get a lesser sentence if he also blames Bundick for the fires.

A state police investigator testified that Bundick gave a statement after she was arrested denying any involvement in the arsons.

The defense called their first witness, Reverend Frank Dickerson.He was the defense's character witness, who testified that he's known Bundick for several years.

Dickerson said she's honest person of good integrity, not someone responsible for arson.

But under cross examination, he admitted to the prosecutors he's actually Bundick's current boyfriend. He said he visits her once a week in jail, and talks to her regularly on the phone. And he even submits letters on her behalf to a local newspaper.

The jury trial is being held on one arson count out of 62 to which Bundick, 42, of Hopeton, pleaded not guilty in May.

Referred to by law-enforcement agencies as 'count 52,' the March 3, 2013, fire, which destroyed a labor camp near Keller owned by Richard F. Hall III, was one of more than 70 arsons reported in Accomack County between November 2012 and April 1, 2013.

Hall took the stand talking about how his vacant farm house was burned to the ground in Accomack County on March 3, 2013.

Next, a Melfa volunteer firefighter testified the home was engulfed in flames when he arrived on scene, and they were concerned about the fire spreading to a nearby fuel tank.

A state police investigator testified they found one set of footprints near the road of the arson scene, and a different set of footprints near the house that was set on fire.

Later Monday afternoon, investigators were expected to talk about the location pings of Bundick's cell phone during the time of the fire.

Bundick's ex-fiance, Charles R. Smith III, pleaded guilty in October to 68 charges related to 67 arsons. He is expected to testify Monday about her involvement in the Hall case.

Defense Attorney Allan Zaleski has argued that Smith is a convicted felon and his testimony about Bundick's involvement in the arson can't be trusted.

Bundick entered an Alford plea on two counts one each of arson and conspiracy to commit arson at a January trial in Virginia Beach. Both were related to an April 1, 2013 fire in Melfa.

She is scheduled to be sentenced on those counts Sept. 4 in Accomac.

The question of whether evidence from other arsons should be admitted will be determined during the trial, an Accomack County judge ruled at a motions hearing last month.

But Judge Glen A. Tyler ruled Commonwealth's Attorney Gary Agar cannot mention other arson acts in his opening statement.

Agar filed notice on May 27 in Accomack County Circuit Court informing defense attorney Allan Zaleski of the Commonwealth's intent to offer as evidence numerous certificates of analysis listing 32 dated between Jan. 2, 2013 and April 7, 2014.

Items from various arson scenes that were analyzed include wood and fire debris, casts of tire impressions, DNA analysis of a pair of yellow gloves, rags, a child's T-shirt and casts of shoe impressions.

Agar said after her arrest in June, Bundick 'made several statements' and his intention to bring in evidence from other arsons during the trial is connected to that.

'We're doing this to show the defendant's intent and knowledge. ... She said she just didn't know anything about it it's incumbent upon the Commonwealth to show she certainly did,' said Agar.

Tyler said he will be 'very strict' during the trial as he considers whether to admit evidence about arsons other than the March 3 fire.

To be admitted, evidence must meet specific requirements for exceptions to the general rule that evidence from other crimes can not be considered in a trial, he said.

Read or Share this story: