TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – The federal government announced Thursday a plan to resume executions starting in December of this year. Just one day prior marked 40 years since a judge imposed the death penalty for serial killer Ted Bundy.
The name of the recent movie about Bundy comes right from the judge who imposed the death sentence – Edward Cowart.
“You are extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile,” Cowart said in the 1979 sentencing hearing.
The 2019 film, however, is more about trust than violence.
“Bundy proves to us that often those who do evil are the people we least expect,” said Joe Berlinger, the director of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
Berlinger said he believes the trial of the serial killer began America’s fascination with true crime dramas.
“It’s never been more popular, the genre, and I trace that back to Bundy,” said Berlinger. “The Bundy trial was the first nationally televised trial, and it was the first time that you know, basically Americans had a serial murderer, a courtroom drama as live entertainment.”
But it almost didn’t happen. Bundy originally tried to keep the cameras out of the courtroom.
“We’re conducting the public’s business, gentleman, and we’re going to conduct it in the sunshine,” said Judge Cowart, ruling against Bundy’s objection during the trial.
While the sorority killings took place in Florida’s capital city across the street from the FSU campus, the trial was moved to Miami over concerns of pretrial publicity.
The death sentence was widely supported at FSU.
“I can remember exactly when it happened and the fright that was around the town,” said one FSU student in July 1979.
“It has to be the death penalty,” said another FSU student interview around the time of the verdict.
While sentenced to death in the sorority killings, Bundy actually went to his death for the killing of a 12-year-old Lake City girl.
Kimberly Leach of Lake City was Bundy’s final victim.
He went on to confess to 30 murders in the days leading up to his 1989 execution.