Murder suspect’s lawyer wants change of venue
Because of the extent of pretrial publicity, the lawyer for accused murderer Karen Bodden wants her trial moved from Douglas County.
Attorney James Wilson of Carson City filed a motion set to be heard Wednesday by District Judge Dave Gamble that “a fair and impartial trial cannot be had in Douglas County.”
Wilson said in the motion filed Monday more than 50 stories about the case which unfolded in August 2006 have been published in the media including The Record-Courier, Nevada Appeal and Reno television stations.
“To determine what information potential jurors have received and the effect the information had on their ability to be fair, they need to be questioned about the news reports and what they have heard and talked about in the community,” Wilson wrote in the motion.
Gamble is to hear a number of motions today before jury selection begins Nov. 29.
Wilson and Douglas County District Attorney Mark Jackson have said they expect the trial to last three weeks.
Bodden, 44, has been in Douglas County Jail since Sept. 11, 2006, following the discovery of her husband’s body in the desert near Johnson Lane. She is being held on $1 million cash bail.
She pleaded not guilty to a charge of open murder with use of a deadly weapon after she was indicted in September by the Douglas County Grand Jury.
Jackson filed a response to Wilson’s motion that it was premature to request a change of venue “until after … examination (of potential jurors) has been conducted and it is apparent to the court that a selection of a fair and impartial jury cannot be held in the county where the indictment is pending.”
“The defendant has not shown any real prejudice from pretrial publicity and the defendant must show actual prejudice,” Jackson said.
Authorities believe Robin Bodden, a 50-year-old aircraft mechanic, was shot to death Aug. 15-16, 2006, and his body was dumped in the desert near Johnson Lane where it was found Sept. 10, 2006.
Following the murder, authorities believe Karen Bodden had 10 days before a family member reported her husband missing to clean up the crime scene and set up her story that she didn’t report his absence because the Boddens were having marital problems.
What investigators discovered, according to court documents, was that Karen Bodden had allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars from her husband’s business, General Aviation Services of Nevada, and from personal accounts.
Authorities believe Robin Bodden was shot to death at his airport hangar and the murderer used the mechanic’s own tools and supplies to carry out the crime.
Wilson filed motions to exclude several pieces of evidence including bank records and credit card receipts. He also asked for the copies of the criminal histories of everyone interviewed by law enforcement in connection with the case or identified in reports.
Wilson also asked that Karen Bodden’s prior felony embezzlement conviction be inadmissible as well as statements made by the victim’s sister that he was afraid his wife was trying to poison him.
He asked that the jury not hear about Karen Bodden’s “nondenial” of her husband’s murder while she was questioned.
“Failure to deny may not be introduced at trial to infer an admission of guilt or as a defendant’s consciousness of guilt,” Wilson wrote in his motion. “It will violate her U.S. constitutional rights to avoid self-incrimination.”
In response, Jackson said the case against Karen Bodden is circumstantial, lacking eyewitnesses, a confession, the murder weapon and direct blood or DNA evidence showing exactly where the murder occurred.
“The defense knows this is a circumstantial case and is praying that this trial court will suppress and, or, limit the circumstantial evidence thereby taking away the state’s case against the defendant,” Jackson said.
“The state’s intent is to present evidence that Robin Bodden was killed to prevent discovery of forgeries and thefts,” Jackson said.