Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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Lead defense lawyer, judge again at odds in murder case

Defense attorney Michael Amador's day started off bad, and it didn't get any better.

Amador, who represents murder suspect Margaret Rudin, first irked District Judge Joseph Bonaventure when he overslept Thursday and showed up late for court. The judge learned at lunchtime that Amador had not provided documents to the prosecutors as promised, and when he did provide them they comprised hundreds of pages.

Amador also angered Bonaventure late in the afternoon because the attorney's exhibits had not been marked and documented ahead of time.

The latest incident forced Bonaventure to send the jury home nearly two hours early, effectively lengthening a trial that will be heading into its seventh week Monday.

Rudin, 56, faces a murder charge in connection with the Dec. 18, 1994, death of her husband, Ronald Rudin, 64.

Prosecutors Gary Guymon and Chris Owens contend Rudin shot her husband to death, decapitated him and burned his remains near Lake Mohave because she stood to inherit a large portion of his $11 million estate.

Amador told jurors he intends to prove that Ronald Rudin's trustees had more means, motive and opportunity to kill him. Amador has said the real estate developer was involved in fraudulent land deals, which led to his death.

Amador asked for a mistrial March 15, saying he was ill-prepared to go forward. Rather than grant the request Bonaventure gave Amador and attorney Tom Pitaro a few days off to catch up. He later appointed attorney John Momot to provide further assistance.

But on Thursday Amador was chastised by Bonaventure for the same sorts of things the judge complained of early in the trial.

Bonaventure labeled the pace of the trial "choppy" and dismissed Amador's explanation that the case is more complicated than most.

The judge also complained Thursday about Amador's frequent objections, many of which concerned documents Amador himself had marked as evidence.

The documents pertain to 165 acres in Lee Canyon that Ronald Rudin was in the process of subdividing and developing. The documents hadn't been marked in advance, and Owens and Guymon objected to their admissibility.

Bonaventure complained that Amador should have filed pretrial motions if he wanted to get the hotly contested documents into evidence and noted that Amador has missed deadlines on many of his other motions.