Jury returns quick guilty verdict in murder

A Douglas County jury deliberated less than three hours Tuesday before finding a 45-year-old Johnson Lane woman guilty of murdering her husband and dumping his body in the desert.

The jury of 10 women and two men return to Judge Dave Gamble's courtroom today to decide the penalty for Karen Bodden.

The defendant showed little emotion as the verdict was read. She was returned to her Douglas County Jail cell where she has been held on $1 million cash bail since her arrest Sept. 11, 2006.

Following the verdict Tuesday, District Attorney Mark Jackson said he would ask for life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Bodden's sentence is enhanced by use of a deadly weapon.

"I'm very pleased about the verdict," Jackson said. "I believe it was a true verdict and a right verdict. I'm especially happy for Rob Bodden's brothers and sisters " Barb, Julie, Tim, and Gary."

Defense attorney James Wilson Jr. said he was disappointed for his client and surprised at the speed with which jurors returned a verdict.

"Considering the amount of evidence, I thought it would take longer," Wilson said.

He asked Gamble if Bodden's son, stationed in the military in Alaska, might be able to testify by telephone today during the penalty phase.

Jurors heard three hours of closing arguments before beginning deliberations Tuesday.

Although circumstantial, the evidence overwhelmingly pointed to Bodden as the murderer of Robin Bodden, 50, a mechanic at the Minden-Tahoe Airport, Jackson said.

He was shot twice in the head with a .22-caliber weapon that was never recovered.

He said he wasn't surprised by the jury's quick verdict.

"Nothing a jury does ever surprises me," he said. "This shows me the jurors paid attention through the two weeks of trial."

Sisters Julie and Barbara Bodden began crying when the verdict was read, and left the courtroom.

"I'm just so glad they believed Mark Jackson," Barbara Bodden said. "He's like God to me. I can quit thinking so much about her now. I want to be able to think about Rob without thinking about her."

Family members embraced Douglas County Sheriff's Investigator Ron Elges who lead the investigation.

"Our whole family wants to thank the district attorney's office," Julie Bodden said. "Not only did they take care of Rob, they took care of us."

"I kind of feel bad for Rob because he loved her so much. I feel like I'm losing him all over again today. He will always be in my heart. He will always be my big brother," she said.

Tim Bodden thanked the jury for "seeing through her (Karen Bodden's) smoke and mirrors."

Bodden's siblings said their brother can never be replaced, but they feel he is at peace.

"I feel Rob's home now," Tim Bodden said

His former brother-in-law, Russell Friesen, talked about loss.

"If Rob was still here, it would just be so much of a better world," he said. "It won't be the same without him."

Karen Bodden pleaded not guilty to a charge of open murder with a deadly weapon in October following her indictment by the Douglas County grand jury.

Authorities believe he was killed Aug. 15-16, 2006, in his hangar at Minden-Tahoe Airport.

In closing arguments Tuesday, Jackson said Bodden was unable to keep her stories straight about her husband's whereabouts and her involvement in his financial affairs.

"The only thing consistent about the defendant's repeated stories is that they are inconsistent," Jackson said

Her attorney told the jury that Jackson failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bodden committed the crime.

"You've heard a lot about theories, about what might have happened, what could have happened. You heard very little about fact," Wilson said.

Barbara Bodden was the first to report her brother missing, contacting the Douglas County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 27, 2006. According to Karen Bodden, she didn't report her husband's absence because the couple was having marital problems and she was going to leave him.

Authorities believe Bodden killed her husband because she had been embezzling money from his business and personal accounts 10 months before he died, and continued to take money after his death.

The prosecution alleged Bodden was afraid her husband would turn her in to authorities, and she would go to prison for a 2004 embezzlement.

She was convicted of embezzling $44,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles and given five years probation.

Wilson told the jury Tuesday that the prosecution dismissed a lack of fingerprints, DNA and blood as unimportant.

"That's very important," Wilson said. "There's not a fingerprint that is a unique identifier that proves Karen Bodden had anything to do with the murder of her husband."

He said "reasonable inference" can't be made on speculation or guess.

"We don't convict people in this country based on speculation or guess," he said.

Jackson said Bodden shouldn't get "bonus points" for wearing gloves and cleaning up the crime scene.

"I ask you to serve justice today, to deliberate, and find the defendant guilty of first-degree murder. And mark the 'yes' box for use of a deadly weapon," Jackson said.

Wilson repeated his opening statement to the jury, saying the evidence was insufficient, scattered and speculative.

"Karen Bodden did not shoot her husband; she did not kill her husband, and she doesn't know who did. Return a 'not guilty' verdict," Wilson said.

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