Though he was officially barred from the case, Millard Farmer struggled to save Bundy from himself, and from Old Sparky. During the sixteen months it took to take the Chi Omega case to trial, Farmer, and his assistant Joe Nursey, kept in touch with Bundy, massaging his ego, calming his nerves, and gently steering him toward his only rational choice - a guilty plea in exchange for his life.
Bundy would plead guilty in exchange for three consecutive life sentences; his earliest possible parole date would be when he was 107 years old. The deal came together in the spring of 1979, as the Chi Omega trial approached.
Millard Farmer carefully maneuvered Bundy to take it, treating him like a peer. «Ted, » Farmer said gently in his sorrowful drawl, « I don’t like the way the prosecution against you is shaping up. You’re not getting any play. You’re not disturbing their pace. » Farmer never hinted that he believed Bundy was guilty; he knew that would turn Bundy against him, too.
Farmer convinced Louise Bundy and Carole Boone that Bundy should take the guilty plea. One by one, they met with Ted and begged him to plead guilty. Bundy seemed to agree. He said he would take the deal to save his life. But it did not last. On May 31, 1979, Bundy went to court to plead guilty. He carried his confession - as well as angry statement denying his guilt and firing his lawyers. In court that morning, he stood and held a document in each hand, as if weighing the real world against the world of his imagining. He chose his cherished images, blasting his court-appointed lawyers for believing « I’m guilty…. Now, your Honor, if this doesn’t raise itself to the level of ineffectiveness of counsel, I don’t know what does, » he said.
Mike Minerva, Bundy’s appointed public defender said, « The prosecutors waited until he finished. When he had completed his motion attacking us and asking us to be released, then he sort of looked at me and sat down. We had a little whispered discussion - he seemed to want to enter a plea now that he’d gotten this off his chest - and the prosecutors down the table said no deal, it’s off.”
After the hearing, Farmer stopped by the killer’s cell and said, « I’ve only got so much time and I’m going to spend it on people who want to live. »