One of America's most notorious recent serial killers, Wayne Adam Ford, will find out in the next few days if he faces death or life imprisonment for the murders of four California women whom he picked up, assaulted, strangled and dismembered along some of the state's less-frequented stretches of highway a decade ago.
When he does learn his fate, he will have an unusual fan at his side. Officially, Victoria Redstall has been following Ford's trial as a documentary maker. Unofficially, though, the British-born actress and model has developed something of a fixation on the truck driver turned brutal killer, visiting him several times a week in jail, photographing him constantly both in the courtroom and outside, and speaking of their strong emotional bond.
Redstall's devotion has made even Ford's lawyers nervous, as they hope to impress the jury with their argument that their client is a changed and genuinely remorseful man, not the monster beyond salvation portrayed by the prosecution.
What makes the relationship particularly strange is that Redstall once worked as a model touting herbal breast enhancement pills. Ford, meanwhile, not only fixated on the breasts of his victims, he also cut them off. When he walked into a police station in California to confess his crimes eight years ago, he had the severed breast of his last victim in a plastic bag in his pocket.
"It's hysterical," was Redstall's breezy comment on the matter to reporters at the San Bernardino County courthouse last week. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, she explained her fascination. "I trust Wayne with my life," she said. "He's got such a kindness to him and such a conscience... He is so tuned in to me and I to him that sometimes words don't have to be said."
She described how the two of them had talked about their childhoods and sung favourite country music songs together across the glass divide of the visiting room in the county jail. Meeting him last April, she said, was the culmination of a long fascination with serial killers - "the dream of a lifetime".
Asked whether the extraordinary brutality of his crimes gave her pause, she said: "Everyone tells me, 'Be careful, he's a serial killer.' But they don't know Wayne like I do. We've all got evil in us - all of us. He took it to the extent of killing humans... But I'm going on the man he is today and the remorse that he has today."
For much of the trial, Redstall enjoyed the support of the judge, Michael Smith, to the point where she was authorised to take pictures in circumstances granted to no other reporter or photographer. She used one of the pictures of Ford in court as the screensaver on her mobile phone.
Last week, however, Ford's lawyers asked for a hearing to reconsider Redstall's media credentials - a little late, since the trial is all but over - and argued that she had not conducted herself in an "honest and forthright" manner. County officials, meanwhile, have launched an investigation into the number of visits Redstall has been granted at the county jail facility in Rancho Cucamonga.
After the final sentencing hearing last week, Redstall drove her red convertible alongside the bus taking Ford back to his cell so he could see her blond hair and jewellery glinting in the sunlight.
"Wayne's pleasure of his day is having me visit him," she told the Times, "and we're going to get this documentary made together."