Margaret Rudin (born May 31, 1943), is an American woman convicted in the December 1994, murder of her husband, real estate magnate Ronald Rudin. She is incarcerated at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in Nevada.
Margaret Lee Frost was born in Memphis, Tennessee, one of three daughters. The family moved frequently and she had lived in 15 states before graduating from high school. She had been married four times before meeting Ronald Rudin at the First Church of Religious Science in Las Vegas. They married on September 11, 1987.
Murder and investigation
Ronald Rudin disappeared on December 18, 1994 after walking to Margaret's antique shop which was in the same strip mall as his real estate office. On January 21, 1995 his charred remains were discovered near Lake Mojave along with the burnt remains of an antique steamer trunk. He had been shot in the head at least four times with a .22 caliber gun. Police later searched the Rudin residence and found blood spatter in the bedroom as well as furniture that had been removed from the home. On July 21, 1996 a .22 caliber Ruger handgun was found in Lake Mead that was found to belong to Ron Rudin and was the murder weapon. Ron Rudin had reported the gun missing in 1988, shortly after he married Margaret.
Flight, arrest, and trial
On April 17, 1997, the grand jury handed down a murder indictment against Margaret but by that time she had left the state. She spent the next 2 1/2 years in hiding until she was arrested in Massachusetts in November 1999 and was extradited to Nevada to face murder charges in the death of her husband. Margaret Rudin went on trial on February 26, 2001 her defense claimed that her husband was killed due to illegal activities he was involved in. The prosecutor argued Margaret killed her husband to prevent him from divorcing her and losing what she would inherit from his estate. She was found guilty on May 2, 2001 and on August 31 she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 20 years.
In 2002, the Nevada Supreme Court denied Margaret Rudin's appeal, finding she was not denied effective assistance of counsel. As of 2008, no record of federal collateral review could be found.
In 2008, Rudin was given a new trial. Clark County District Judge Sally Loehrer ruled that lawyers for Margaret Rudin, then 65 years old, were not prepared to defend her at her 2001 trial, according to lawyers on both sides of the case. She also ruled that Michael Amador, Rudin's lead attorney at the time, was not effective, according to Christopher Oram, Rudin's new attorney.
KLTV-8 News reported on May 10, 2010, that the Nevada Supreme Court ruled against convicted Rudin and ruled she would not get another trial. The lower Appeals Court's ruling was overturned and the original conviction stood.
On April 26, 2011, the Las Vegas Sun reported that Margaret Rudin had filed a habeas corpus petition in federal court seeking a new trial and reversal of her conviction based on ineffective assistance of trial counsel, impermissible hearsay testimony, faulty jury instructions and other points.
On January 25, 2012, U.S. District Court Judge Roger L. Hunt dismissed Margaret Rudin’s federal habeas corpus case with prejudice. In a nine-page decision, Judge Hunt found that Rudin’s federal petition was not filed in a timely manner. The ruling paves the way for an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.
On September 10, 2014, in a split decision by a three-judge panel, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's order dismissing Rudin’s federal habeas corpus case despite what it acknowledged to be serious issues with her representation and prosecution, both pre- and post-conviction. The Court deemed that it was compelled to deny her petition, while at the same time acknowledging that it was "troubled" by the case. Excerpts from the Opinion's Conclusion:
We are troubled by the outcome of this case for many reasons. Margaret Rudin's direct appeal and collateral review proceedings have been pending in either state or federal court for a combined total of 13 years. She has potentially meritorious claims that she has suffered prejudice at the hands of her own attorneys' egregious misconduct. Yet she has never had an opportunity to present those claims in court.
Rudin’s defense counsel, Amador, indisputably engaged in egregious professional misconduct during the course of her underlying criminal trial. On direct appeal of her judgment of conviction, the Nevada Supreme Court acknowledged that Rudin’s trial was plagued not only with inadequacies on the part of defense counsel, but also with prosecutorial misconduct and legal error on the part of the State and the court. Although two members of the Nevada Supreme Court found the record sufficiently clear as to the “inherent prejudice created by [trial counsel]” to require immediate reversal of Rudin’s judgment of conviction, a majority of the court declined to address the effect of those errors, finding them more appropriate for resolution on collateral review.
[A]t this point, Rudin is still in prison, having served 13 years of her life sentence for murder. We know from the state post-conviction court that the State’s “proof of guilt [at that trial] was not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.” We also know from the post-conviction court that, had Rudin been represented by competent counsel, the jury’s verdict may have been different. Thus, what we do not know is whether Rudin is lawfully imprisoned. And, regrettably, that is something we may never know.
On March 10, 2015 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals withdrew its opinion of September 10, 2014 and issued a revised opinion affirming the trial court's decision that Rudin was entitled to a new trial, as a direct result of the professional misconduct and prejudicial conflict of interest by her original trial lawyer, Michael Amador.
On February 29, 2016 the United States Supreme Court denied a petition by the Attorney General of Nevada challenging the Ninth Circuit's ruling.
The crime documentary series "Mugshots: Margaret Rudin's Revenge" interviewed Rudin inside a Las Vegas, Nevada prison. Rudin claims her innocence and that the District Attorney has unjustly charged her, duration: 45 minutes, air date: 2000.
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, "The Similarities: Older man, younger woman," January 1, 2001
- People magazine, "Till Death Did Them Part," by Peter Ames Carlin, March 6, 2000
- State v. Rudin, 86 P.3d 572 (Nv Sup.Ct. 2004
- Kihara, David (2008-12-19). "Rudin to get new trial". 'ReviewJournal.com. Retrieved 2009-05-09.
- "No New Trial for Margaret Rudin.". KLTV-8 News, 8newsnow.com. 2010-05-10. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- "Margaret Rudin seeking new appeal.". Las Vegas Sun, lasvegasun.com. 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
- Washington Examiner, "Federal judge rejects Vegas 'black widow' appeal," January 25, 2012
- Opinion from Ninth Circuit website http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2014/09/10/12-15362.pdf
- Revised Opinion by the Ninth Circuit https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9a/Rudin_v._Miles_Ninth_Circuit_Revised_Opinion.pdf
- ""Mugshots Ep 6 Margaret Rudin's Revenge" Free | Snagfilms". Parco International. Retrieved 20 April 2017.
- "FilmRise MUGSHOTS: Margaret Rudin". filmrise.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017.