Judge Dave Gamble ruled Thursday that convicted killer Karen Bodden had effective counsel in her unsuccessful defense against charges that she murdered her husband, airport mechanic Rob Bodden, in August 2006.
Bodden, 50, had filed a writ of habeas corpus seeking post-conviction relief because she claimed ineffective representation by her attorney, James Wilson of Carson City, now a District Court judge, resulted in a guilty verdict.
In his 13-page opinion, Gamble said Wilson's testimony at a two-day hearing in September "reflected sound reasoning to substantiate the defense strategy presented during trial."
He said Karen Bodden failed to show that Wilson's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.
"Defense counsel reasonably investigated petitioner's defense and executed a reasonable defense strategy, including the many tactical decisions of who to call as a witness, such that counsel's conduct falls within the wide range of reasonable professional assistance," Gamble said in the document.
He said any character of error offered by Bodden's attorney, Marc Picker, was minimal and precluded verdict reversal.
Gamble said Bodden failed to demonstrate a "reasonable probability" that but for an error, the verdict would have been different.
In a two-day hearing in September, Gamble heard testimony from the attorneys who represented Bodden, two of her children, a forensic psychiatrist, former customers of her pond business, and a retired defense attorney who is an expert in trial strategy.
Wilson testified that in defending Bodden he only put on one defense witness to protect her case from damaging cross-examination.
Wilson said he met frequently with Bodden to keep her abreast of the case progress.
She was convicted by a jury of murdering her husband, Minden airplane mechanic Robin Bodden, 50, in August 2006.
Bodden did not testify during the two-week trial in January 2008.
According to investigators' reports, she claimed her husband had gone off with a pilot named "Ramos" to work for a drug cartel. She said she didn't report him missing because they were having marital problems.
Authorities believed Bodden shot her husband at his Minden-Tahoe Airport hangar, drove his body to the desert near Johnson Lane, and dumped him in a shallow grave.
Records indicate he died Aug. 15-16, 2006, and his decomposed body was found three weeks later on Sept. 10, 2006.
Karen Bodden was accused of embezzling money from his business, General Aviation Services.
She was on five years probation from a 2004 conviction for embezzling $44,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Investigators believe she murdered Rob Bodden because she was afraid he would turn her in for the new embezzlement.
Gamble sentenced Bodden in March 2008 to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years and a minimum of four years of a 10-year enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, to be served consecutively.
She is incarcerated at the Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in North Las Vegas.
A Douglas County jury deliberated just two hours before finding Bodden guilty of first-degree murder.
Bodden has made several attempts to have her conviction overturned.
A week after her January 2008 trial, Bodden sought a new trial from Gamble who denied her request.
Her next stop was the Nevada Supreme Court in February 2010 where a three-judge panel unanimously upheld her conviction.
She has 30 days to appeal the latest ruling which was issued Jan. 3, three days before Gamble's retirment takes effect Sunday.