A federal appeals court removed one of the obstacles to the execution of convicted multiple murderer Ted Bundy by denying his request for a new trial in the killing of a 12-year-old girl.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a unanimous 60-page ruling Thursday upholding a lower court's finding that Bundy was mentally competent when he was tried and convicted of killing Kimberly Leach of Lake City, Fla.Bundy, 41, on his third death warrant, had been scheduled to die Nov. 18, 1986, for the Leach murder when the Atlanta court issued an indefinite stay of execution to consider his request for a new trial.

Bundy remains on death row in the Florida State Prison in Starke. He also was convicted and sentenced to die for the bludgeon murders of two sorority sisters, Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman, as they slept in their beds at the Chi Omega sorority house on the campus of Florida State University on Jan. 15, 1978.

He is also suspected in the deaths and disappearances of at least 36 other young women in four Western states in the middle and late 1970s.