Who drove in fatal accident?
Not the cops' son, prosecution says
By Marley Shebala
SHIPROCK, Feb. 16,2012
But today, the surviving passenger in Deale's vehicle stands accused by federal prosecutors of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and assault resulting in serious bodily injury.
Based on an investigation by Shiprock tribal police and the FBI, prosecutors contend that Maria Bundy, 40, of Shiprock was driving at the time of the crash and is responsible for the death of passenger Larry Mark, 55, and the serious injury of Deale.
This week prosecutors declined to comment on the case, noting that the investigation went before a grand jury, which handed down the charges.
Records on the case show that the first police officer to arrive on the scene listed Deale as the driver, based on Mark's statement before he died.
Mark's brother Conway, told the FBI that Deale was driving when the trio left him shortly before the accident.
But Bundy incriminated herself under police questioning later, and Deale claims she was driving when his purple 1999 Dodge pickup went off a country road six miles west of Shiprock and rolled, ejecting all three riders.
So where does the truth lie?
Old enough to know better
Bundy and Deale were in a relationship - a triangle actually.
They'd known each other since high school but had been a couple for just three weeks. Both were married to other people.
The third partner in their relationship was alcohol, and on March 5, 2011, the pair was three days into a drinking binge, according to statements they made to police after the accident.
Mark was a friend of Deale's who was along for the ride on that Saturday afternoon. He'd met Bundy for the first time a couple of days earlier.
They ran out of beer after drinking for several hours, and drove up to Eagle Claw Liquor & Gifts in Cortez, Colo., to resupply.
According to Bundy, they bought a 30-pack of Budweiser, an 18-pack of Coors light, and a bottle of 100-proof peppermint liquor.
They decided to take the scenic route back to Shiprock, and Bundy drove because Deale was too drunk to do it.
They arrived back in Shiprock and went to a friend's house, and continued to drink.
Bundy later recalled telling Deale she was too drunk to drive anymore. The last thing she could remember before the accident was sitting in the middle of the truck's front seat, listening to Deale and one of the neighbors in a heated argument.
The next thing she recalls is seeing her sister's face as she was being loaded into a helicopter, which picked her up at Northern Navajo Medical Center and took her to UNM Hospital in Albuquerque for treatment of her injuries.
Bundy was not able to say how the three got from the friend's house to the spot on Mesa Farm Road where the crash occurred.
At 4:45 p.m. the Shiprock police got a call from a citizen about a one-vehicle rollover with casualties, and officers Lambert Deschine and Felicia Freeman responded to the scene.
"I asked Mr. Mark who was driving," Deschine later wrote in his incident report. "He stated Roland Deale. I noticed that he had a hard time talking and he had blood in his mouth. I told him not to move and the ambulance is on the way."
Deschine also stated that he asked Bundy who was driving.
"She did not answer my questions," he said. "I told her the ambulance is on the way and not to move. She had blood coming out of her mouth. I noticed that she did spit out one of her teeth."
Meanwhile his partner was "tending to a man that was lying on the ground next to the driver's door. He was moving and Officer Freeman and the other bystanders kept telling him not to move. The male was later identified as Roland Deale," Deschine stated in his report.
He described Mark and Bundy as lying north of the vehicle.
Deale's blood alcohol level was measured at .316 shortly after he arrived at the hospital, close to four times the legal limit. Bundy's BAC was .299 at 6:24 p.m., about two hours after the crash.
Deschine's report does not show an interview with Deale at the accident scene. Police dispatch notified Deschine about 8:51 a.m. the following morning that Mark had died the previous night, and the officer then contacted the hospital for information on Deale's condition. An emergency room nurse told him that Deale was in intensive care and sedated.
"I was unable to interview him," Deschine stated in his report.
According to two FBI reports dated after the accident, Deale was talking to his doctor. He reportedly told "attending physicians that a woman was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash." That's according to a May 5, 2011, FBI polygraph report filed by Jennifer K. Sullivan.
Sullivan stated that during Deale's interview he said, "he had drank too much that day and did not know who had been driving his vehicle." Deale told the same thing to FBI Special Agent Jonathan R. Mackay, the special agent said in a March 14, 2011, report.
Sullivan reported that Bundy didn't know who was driving when the accident happened because she had "blacked out." But Bundy, unlike Deale, felt responsibility for what had happened, as her subsequent statements show.
Deale did not identify her by name, Mackay's report said.
'It's a nightmare'
The case initially was assigned to tribal Criminal Investigator Jefferson Joe, who was under department supervisor Leroy Deale Jr., Roland Deale's father, prior to the latter's retirement two years earlier.
Joe confirmed on Wednesday that Leroy Deale had been his supervisor and that Roland's mother, former Officer Angie Deale, had also worked in the Shiprock Police District.
Joe, however, said the FBI was brought in on his investigation to remove any conflict of interest questions.
He said he could not discuss how the investigation was handled and how it resulted in a federal grand jury indictment against Bundy.
Joe noted that both Bundy and Roland Deale were questioned extensively and then he referred all additional questions to the federal prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Kyle Nayback.
Nayback said on Wednesday that he could not comment on a federal pending case and referred questions to his office's public information officer, Elizabeth Martinez.
Martinez said the FBI was brought in because the case involved a major crime.
Karen Dick of Shiprock, Bundy's sister, believes without a doubt that Deale was the driver and that there are two reasons he was not charged - his parents and their longtime police connections.
Dick argues that the evidence against Bundy consists of Deale's self-serving statements, and statements Bundy made while under the influence of pain medication during hours of police questioning.
Bundy, who is in custody in Albuquerque, could not be reached for comment and her court-appointed defense counsel, David L. Plotsky, declined to comment for this story.
According to Dick, Joe contacted Bundy two days after she was released from the hospital and asked to come to his office.
Dick said Joe didn't tell her Bundy would be polygraphed. If he had, she added, she would have insisted on being present.
She started crying as she recalled watching her sister hobble away with Joe to be questioned.
"They kept her for five hours," Dick remembered. "My sister had to use a walker and she was under medication because she was still in pain."
Dick presented two handwritten statements that Bundy wrote and that Sullivan, the FBI polygraph examiner, signed as a witness on May 5, 2011.
One is an apology to Mark's family: "I did not intend to take anyone's life, we all made that choice to do what we did that day. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness."
In the other statement Bundy writes: "As a result of the accident happening on March 5, 2011, I feel that I am responsible for the accident.
"There are parts of the accident that are sketchy and that my mind may have been in denial about what happened."
"They made her write those letters," Dick accused. "It's a nightmare."
Moreover, Dick said, why did the account of Mark's brother carry so little weight?
According to a July 1, 2011, report by Mackay, Conway Mark said he saw Deale get in the driver's seat just before the three departed Larry Mark's house. But then, Mark also said Deale did all the driving that day, in contrast to Bundy's account.
Headed for trial
A May 9, 2011, report by Mackay states that on the day of Bundy's polygraph and handwritten statements, he interviewed her and viewed a text message that Deale sent her on March 14, 2011, nine days after the accident.
Deale was ending the fling.
"Almost died last sat, wrecked my truck, so ceasing all communications with everyone. Nice to see you after all these years. Do your homework," he wrote.
Mackay reported that Bundy explained the last remark, saying that she was attending college.
Bundy is scheduled for arraignment at 9:30 a.m. today in the federal courthouse in Albuquerque. Her trial is scheduled to start March 12 but Plotsky, her lawyer, said he has asked for a 60-day continuance, and the prosecution is not opposing it.
Plotsky said he is trying to locate witnesses for Bundy and would appreciate anyone contacting him at his office, 505-268-0095.
Her big sister, Karen Dick, is praying someone comes forward to exonerate her sister.
"It's too crazy," Dick said. "It's all geared one way. The investigation was not done right. It's wrong. It's just gotten into a big mess. I don't know what to do."