Months later, attorney James Coleman remains frustrated by Ted Bundy's execution - not so much because he failed to block it, but because the "whys" behind his client's killing rampage will probably never be known.
"I don't think it will ever be answered," Coleman said. "I don't think we came close."Coleman was Bundy's lead counsel for nearly three years and was among the witnesses at his Jan. 24 execution.
While he defended Bundy, blocking three death warrants before Bundy's execution on the fourth, Coleman purposely kept a low profile. He answered news media questions only about specifics of Bundy's appeals and declined to appear on television news talk shows.
In a lengthy telephone interview from his Washington office last week, Coleman reflected upon his dealings with one of America's most reviled murderers.
In his final days, Bundy was fixated on trying to understand what had caused his uncontrollable drive to brutalize young women, Coleman said. Bundy, convicted of three Florida murders, confessed to 23 more in four states during talks with investigators who came to Florida State Prison in his last days.
"I think he wanted to confess at least since he was arrested in Florida (in 1978) with varying degrees of intensity. I think that more than that, he wanted to talk about not only what he had done, but why," Coleman said.
Some investigators have said they believe Bundy was responsible for 50 to 100 murders, but Coleman doubts there are many Bundy left unconfessed and estimates his total at 36 killings.
Coleman played down Bundy's execution eve interview with James Dobson, a radio minister and psychologist who is a national anti-pornography leader. Bundy told Dobson his crimes were fueled by an addiction to hard-core pornography.
"I think that was a little bit of Ted telling the minister what he wanted to hear and Ted offering an explanation that would exonerate him personally," Coleman said. "I had heard that before, and I told Ted I never accepted it."
Coleman said Bundy was intrigued by his final-week talks with psychiatrist Dorothy Lewis, who focused on Bundy's childhood to study the killer, who wore the mask of a handsome, articulate law student. Bundy never knew his biological father and was raised initially in the home of a sometimes-violent grandfather.
But as the execution neared, Coleman said, there was little time to get on-the-record details of Bundy's crimes or to study him.
Coleman had argued that Bundy was incompetent to stand trial but said that Bundy opposed defense efforts to have him found incompetent. Bundy, he said, "basically destroyed himself."
The attorney recalled thinking, as he said good-bye to Bundy in his holding cell just before his execution: "He was probably his 37th victim. He executed himself."