Karen Bodden, who denied killing her 50-year-old husband in August 2006, was sentenced Tuesday to a minimum of 24 years in Nevada State Prison before she is eligible for parole.
District Judge David Gamble sentenced Bodden, 45, to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years and a minimum of four years of a 10-year enhancement for use of a deadly weapon, to be served consecutively.
Bodden was convicted Jan. 22 by a Douglas County jury of first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband, aircraft mechanic Robin Bodden.
Prior to the sentencing Tuesday, Bodden made a tearful statement to the judge.
"I will forever love Rob with all my heart," she said. "He had his faults, but I forgave him unconditionally. I did everything I could to make our marriage work."
She claimed her husband was an alcoholic who didn't want to socialize.
"It hurts when you have a husband who doesn't want to be part of the family," she said.
"Things were getting better for us. We had a good future together, then he's gone. It hurts. I feel bad for the horrible impact of his death," she said.
After her tearful testimony, Bodden showed little emotion as Gamble read the sentence. She was returned to Douglas County Jail where she has been held on $1 million bail since her arrest Sept. 11, 2006.
The victim's siblings, believing Bodden deserved life in prison without parole, expressed anger at the sentence.
"I'm in shock," said Julie Bodden. "She executed him and dumped him in the desert. It's unfathomable that she didn't get life without parole."
Barbara Bodden said she was disappointed.
"Our hope was that she would get life without parole. Rob doesn't have a life, and we don't want her to have a life, either. The Bible says, 'An eye for an eye.'"
In sentencing Bodden, Gamble said he wrestled with the minimum number of options available.
"I was considering for a time the circumstantial character of this conviction. I read through the motion for a new trial. I spent my whole life trusting juries, and I never had a reason to distrust this jury.
This was a careful jury, an attentive jury. They paid strict attention to each witness, also to the evidence that was shown to them."
He called the crime "heinous."
"It was an execution-style slaying and ended the life of a man dearly loved by his family and a contributing member of society who in no way deserved what happened to him," Gamble said.
Gamble said he also considered that Karen Bodden raised four children on her own "who are exemplary citizens."
In sentencing her to life with the possibility of parole, Gamble said Bodden is "not eligible for parole until society is utterly safe" because she will be close to 70 before she could be released.
He also said the sentence gives the prison system a better way to control her than life without parole.
District Attorney Mark Jackson said he knew Rob Bodden's family was unhappy with the sentence.
"I am disappointed for them," he said.
"I have a lot of respect for Judge Gamble. He is one of the more senior judges in the state of Nevada. He has handled countless sentencings over a long and distinguished career. I believe he weighed all the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in reaching his decision."
Jackson said Bodden must serve a minimum of 24 years in prison before she is eligible for parole. She also faces a parole violation hearing in Carson City that could mean additional time.
"Being eligible and actually being paroled in murder offenses is something very hard to predict 24 years down the road," Jackson said.
Bodden's lawyers, James Wilson Jr. and Erik Johnson, said Bodden has 30 days from the filing of the judgment of conviction to file a notice of appeal.
"It's been a very difficult case," Wilson said. "One life was lost and many lives have been affected. It's a tragedy for all concerned."
Johnson filed motions for a new trial and to set aside the jury's verdict that Gamble denied prior to the sentencing.
"She didn't do it," Johnson said. "There's more to it than we've ever heard. I certainly don't have the faith the judge has in the jury system. This case is the most impressive verification of my theory. They deliberated two hours, over lunch."
"If she didn't do it, what else can her reaction be? At a minimum, she'll be 70 when she gets out. Not only do you lose your husband, this happens," Johnson said.
Bodden did not testify during the two-week trial. According to investigators' reports, she believed her husband had gone off with a pilot named "Ramos" to work for a drug cartel. She said she didn't report him missing because they were having marital problems.
Authorities believed she killed her husband at his Minden-Tahoe Airport hangar, drove his body to the desert near Johnson Lane, and dumped him in a shallow grave.
Records indicate he died Aug. 15-16, 2006, and his decomposed body was found three weeks later on Sept. 10.
Karen Bodden was accused of embezzling money from his business, General Aviation Services. She was on five years probation from a 2004 conviction for embezzling $44,000 from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Investigators believe she shot him because she was afraid he would turn her in for the new embezzlement.