Leo B. Bunker, right, consults with his attorney Michael Underwood as he is sentenced in Lewis County Superior Court to prison for rape.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – A 53-year-old Winlock man convicted of raping his wife was sentenced today to 38 years in prison.
Leo B. Bunker III, who denied the accusations when he took the witness stand during his trial earlier this month, filed a notice of appeal following this morning’s court hearing, but suffers from advanced throat cancer.
Bunker’s lawyer called it a virtual life sentence even without the illness; a prosecutor indicated it was well-deserved.
“He is incredibly dangerous, ” Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Joely O’Rourke told the judge. “He will absolutely get out and either kill (the victim) or hurt someone else.”
Bunker was arrested in late 2011 after deputies were told he physically abused the woman he reunited with some 35 years after they dated in high school. The victim testified he quickly became possessive and violent, preventing her from talking on the phone or leaving the house and terrifying her with cruel and sadistic threats.
She described how she went through with their wedding, because she didn’t think she could get away from him and still make sure she and her family would be safe.
O’Rourke today read a statement from the victim in which she wrote when “Buddy” came back into her life, it reminded her of better times, but she quickly came to fear him and would do just about anything to avoid his rage.
Bunker was convicted by on June 6, as charged, of two counts of second-degree rape, one count of harassment and two counts of violating a protection order. The jury found “aggravating circumstances” which allowed for additional time on his sentence.
On the advice of her doctor, the victim stayed away from today’s proceedings, according to O’Rourke. She sufferers from a coronary condition so serious her doctors told her could kill her if she testified.
Bunker’s older sister however was in the courtroom in support of her sibling.
“It’s one thing to go to prison for things you did, but it’s wrong when you didn’t,” Debra Tsugawa said.
Tsugawa said she doesn’t know if her brother will live long enough to see through his appeal.
She said her brother was diagnosed in August of last year with an aggressive cancer while he was locked up awaiting trial, but his treatment was delayed until January and by then it had spread to his lymph glands and thyroid.
Because he is in the custody of the jail, Lewis County has been responsible for paying for his medical care. As of two weeks ago, the bills had added up to more than $250,000, according to Lewis County Jail Chief Kevin Hanson.
The sentencing was initially scheduled for next month, while waiting for a pre-sentencing report from the state Department of Corrections.
Hanson reported to the Lewis County Board of Commissioners two weeks ago, that he asked Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer to ask DOC to expedite the report because Bunker needed further significant medical procedures before then.
Judge James Lawler today ordered Bunker to pay more than $2,000 in fines, fees and reimbursements such as for his defense attorney and his time in jail. Lawler said he is also ordering the medical costs to be repaid if prosecutors can provide evidence that’s allowable.
Bunker may have no contact with the victim for life and will be on community supervision after his release for the rest of his life.
For background, read “Lewis County rape case plagued with delays hits another hurdle” from Friday May 31, 2013, here