District Judge Dave Gamble came close to calling a mistrial Thursday after District Attorney Mark Jackson introduced evidence against defendant Karen Bodden which had not been made available to the lawyers defending her against a charge that she murdered her husband.
During examination of case investigator Ron Elges, Jackson produced a bank authorization card which he claimed was a forgery.
Outside the presence of the jury, Carson City lawyer James Wilson Jr. asked for a mistrial.
"The information was not disclosed to me. I believe Ms. Bodden is seriously prejudiced," Wilson said.
"The state had that document in its possession since September 2006. The information from the lay witness is akin to expert testimony," Wilson said.
Jackson said in last-minute pretrial preparations, he saw the document and noticed the signature, purported to be murder victim Robin Bodden's, differed from other handwriting samples. He sent the document to Bodden's accountant Tuesday who said it was a forgery.
"I truly believed the defense already knew about that information from the date Mr. Wilson got on the case," Jackson said.
Gamble strongly admonished Jackson that it was his responsibility to make sure Wilson had the information in discovery, the process where each side is allowed to investigate the other's case before the trial or hearing.
"Because Mr. Wilson wisely did not jump up and down at its introduction, there was no surprise registered," Gamble said.
"My remedy is to instruct the jury to disregard and the state is prevented from eliciting any testimony on authentication of the signature," he said.
Wilson asked that the trial be continued until Friday morning so he could determine for the defense the signature's authenticity.
"I am not assuming that signature is false," he said.
When the jury returned, Gamble ordered to panel to disregard the question of the signature's authenticity.
"You may not consider it for any purpose," he said before dismissing the jury for the night.
Bodden, 45, is accused of murdering her husband and dumping his body in the desert near Johnson Lane. She pleaded not guilty to the charge in October following her indictment by the Douglas County grand jury.
Robin Bodden's body was discovered Sept. 10, 2006, in the desert off Johnson Lane two weeks after his sister Barbara reported him missing.
Authorities believe Bodden killed her husband Aug. 15-16, 2006, and dumped his body in the desert.
Jackson said evidence would show she began embezzling money from the 50-year-old aircraft mechanic's business and personal accounts 10 months before he died and continued to take money after his death.
Jackson said Bodden was afraid her husband would turn her in to authorities and she would go to prison for a 2004 embezzlement conviction for which she received probation.
Karen Bodden was convicted of embezzling $44,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Wilson said the prosecution could not prove exactly when Robin Bodden was killed nor were investigators able to find evidence that his wife was involved.
Earlier Thursday, Gamble admonished the court gallery against any physical reaction to testimony which could influence the jury.
"There was a couple in the audience who disagreed with what Mr. Wilson was saying. I will correct you in the future," he said outside the jury's presence.
Wilson said he was concerned since he couldn't see what took place.
"There was a lady sitting and shaking her head at questions or answers and expressing amusement," Gamble said. "If I thought it was more important, I would have stopped the proceedings."