The Kimberly Leach Trial
After many delays, the Leach trial began in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Courthouse on January 7, 1980. This time Ted decided not to represent himself, instead handing over the responsibility to defense attorneys Julius Africano and Lynn Thompson. Their strategy was to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, a plea that was risky but one of the few available options open to the defense.
The plea of insanity might not have been difficult for the seven women, five man jury to believe. Unlike the other hearings, Ted became increasingly agitated throughout the trial. At one point he even lost control and stood up yelling at a witness with whom he disagreed. Michaud and Aynesworth stated that Ted was just barely able to control himself, "expending huge amounts of energy just to keep from blowing apart." It appeared that Ted's facade of confidence was beginning to fade, probably because he realized that he had already lost the war and this legal battle wouldn't make much difference in determining his fate.
There was no doubt that the outlook for Ted was bleak. Assistant state attorney Bob Dekle presented 65 witnesses that had connected Ted either directly or indirectly with Kimberly Leach on the day of her disappearance. One of the star witnesses had seen a man resembling Ted leading an upset little girl, matching Kimberly's description, into a white van in front of the girl's school. However, the defense team argued the legitimacy of the testimony because the man was unable to recall the precise day he had seen the man and little girl.
Nevertheless, Dekle continued to press on and present even more convincing evidence. The most damaging was the fiber evidence, which linked Ted's clothes and the van he had driven that day with the crime scene. Moreover, fibers matching those from Kimberly Leach's clothes were found in the van and on Ted's clothing that he had allegedly worn on the day of the crime. The prosecution's expert witness, who testified about the fiber analysis, stated that she believed that at some point Ted and Kimberly Leach had been in contact around the time of her death. Michaud and Aynesworth claimed that the testimony had been, "literally fatal" to Ted's case.
Exactly one month following the opening of the trial, Judge Wallace Jopling asked the jury to deliberate. On February 7th, after less than seven hours of deliberation the jury returned the verdict, "GUILTY." The verdict was immediately followed by jubilation from the prosecution team and their supporters.
February 9th marked the second anniversary of Kimberly Leach's death. It also was the day that the sentencing trial commenced. During the penalty phase of the trial, Ted shocked those in the courtroom while he interviewed defense witness Carole Ann Boone. During his questioning of Carole, the two caught everyone off guard when they exchanged vows. According to Florida law, the verbal promise made under oath was enough to seal the agreement and the two were considered officially married. Shortly thereafter, the groom was sentenced to death in the electric chair for the third time in under a year. He would spend his honeymoon alone on Death Row in Florida State's Raiford Penitentiary.