LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A federal judge vacated the murder conviction of Margaret Rudin, who became known as the “Black Widow” during her high-profile trial more than two decades ago.
Rudin, now 78, served a 20-year to life sentence, before her release on parole in 2020. The judge’s order overturns Rudin’s conviction and releases her of any parole obligations.
Rudin was convicted for her husband’s murder in 2001. Police had suspected Ron Rudin was shot in the head in 1994 at their Las Vegas home. His remains were discovered dumped in the desert near Lake Mohave.
In July 1996, a diver found a handgun with a silencer wrapped in grocery bags in Lake Mead. Police identified the gun as the murder weapon.
At the time of his death, Ron Rudin was helping his wife open an antique store. He had an estimated net worth of between $8 million and $11 million, court records said.
The judge’s ruling notes Rudin’s representation at the time, Michael Amador, was “objectively unreasonable.” Amador has since died, Rudin’s current attorney Greg Mullanax said Monday.
“For example not interviewing witnesses, not knowing all the facts,” Mullanax said about the trial attorney. “He gave a rambling opening statement that really didn’t pertain to her cause. He talked a lot about himself.”
“Rudin has also made a compelling showing that there is a reasonable probability that, but for Amador’s unprofessional errors, the result of her trial would have been different,” the judge wrote in his ruling.
Rudin had appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, with two justices agreeing there should have been a mistrial in the case “because ‘it was obvious that the defense was not prepared to try the case’ and the primary defense counsel ‘had a clear conflict of interest with his client,'” the judge’s ruling said.
It was unclear Monday afternoon if the Clark County District Attorney’s Office would appeal the ruling.