Judge Throws Out Conviction in Millionaire's 1994 Death

Nevada prosecutors could appeal or attempt to retry Margaret Rudin
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 10, 2020 2:30 PM CST
Updated May 18, 2022 6:30 PM CDT
Notorious 'Black Widow' Released From Prison
Margaret Rudin, second from left, is escorted out of Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center by prison staff on Jan. 10, 2020, in North Las Vegas.   (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, File)/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Update: After being found guilty in a sensational trial and spending almost 20 years in prison for the death of her husband, Margaret Rudin is no longer a killer in the eyes of the law. A federal judge has thrown out her 2001 conviction, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports, finding that Rudin received "incompetent representation" from her defense lawyer. Prosecutors haven't said yet whether they'll appeal the decision or move to retry Rudin. "I will be 79 years old at the end of this month, so I am very, very grateful," Rudin said. Our story from January 2020 follows:

One of Nevada’s most notorious convicted murderers was released from prison Friday, more than 25 years after her millionaire husband’s burned body was found outside Las Vegas, per the AP. Margaret Rudin, 76, a socialite antiques shop owner dubbed the “black widow” while she was a fugitive ahead of her 2001 trial, left a women’s prison after winning parole from her 20-years-to-life sentence for the killing of real estate mogul Ron Rudin. She was met by a juror-turned-supporter Corrine Kovacs, who was the last holdout before voting to convict her, and lawyer Greg Mullanax. He is asking a federal judge to order a new trial to clear Rudin of the conviction that will otherwise keep her on parole for the rest of her life. The case began when Ron Rudin, a 64-year-old prominent Las Vegas real estate developer, disappeared in December 1994.

Fishermen stumbled across his skull and charred bones a month later near the shoreline of a reservoir outside Las Vegas. Prosecutors said he had been shot in the head as he slept and that his body was taken to the desert and burned. Police said he was shot with a .22-caliber gun with a silencer that Ron Rudin reported missing in 1988. Beneficiaries revealed that Ron Rudin amended his trust in 1991 with a directive to investigate his death if it was by violent means and cutting anyone responsible out of his will. His widow became a fugitive after a diver found the murder weapon in 1996 at the bottom of Lake Mead. Authorities said Rudin changed her name and her appearance, and slipped through the hands of Phoenix police in September 1998 before her arrest in November 1999 in Revere, Massachusetts. (Japan has a "black widow" of its own.)

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