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‘Watched you nearly murder’ someone: Rodimer’s attorneys want texts suppressed

Updated April 10, 2024 - 8:47 pm

Defense attorneys for a former congressional candidate accused of murder are seeking to suppress evidence of text messages and wiretapped phone calls between the suspect and his wife.

Daniel Rodimer, 45, who ran for Nevada’s 3rd congressional district in 2020, was charged with murder last month, after investigators accused him of attacking Christopher Tapp during a party at Resorts World in October. Rodimer made his first court appearance on Wednesday morning, a day after defense attorneys filed a motion asking a judge to suppress evidence of communication between Rodimer and his wife.

In the text messages, sent hours after Tapp was hospitalized early Oct. 30, Rodimer’s wife said he was “going to be in prison for attempted murder,” according to copies of the text messages outlined in court documents.

Rodimer’s wife, identified as Sarah Duffy in court documents, texted her husband that she “watched you nearly murder” someone, according to court records.

“I had to take your f—-ing hands off from his neck as he laid there and you ran away,” Duffy texted.

The two also discussed a divorce in the texts, although defense attorneys continue to describe Duffy as Rodimer’s wife, and there is no record in Clark County of them separating.

Rodimer is accused of attacking Tapp after he became angry that Tapp allegedly offered his stepdaughter cocaine during a party at Resorts World.

Police also applied for a wiretap and recorded a January phone call between Rodimer and his wife in which they discussed the case and an interview between police and Rodimer’s stepdaughter.

Defense attorneys argued that the text messages and the recorded phone call should be considered private “marital communication.”

“In Nevada, both the courts and the Legislature zealously protect against infringement into a married couple’s communications — even where that protection comes at the cost of the prosecutorial fact-finding process,” Rodimer’s attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, wrote in Tuesday’s motion.

Prosecutors have not filed a response to the motion as of Wednesday afternoon.

Rodimer turned himself in to police on March 6, but he was released hours later after posting a $200,000 bail.

Tapp, 47, had spent two decades in Idaho prison for a 1996 murder he didn’t commit. He was released in 2017, exonerated in 2019, and then won a $11.7 million settlement in 2022 against the city of Idaho Falls.

Rodimer was flanked by his defense attorneys during Wednesday’s brief hearing. Chesnoff told the judge that Rodimer waived his right to a speedy preliminary hearing, in which a judge determines if there is enough evidence for Rodimer to stand trial.

After the hearing, Chesnoff said the defense attorneys are “looking forward to vigorously defending this case.” He declined to comment further.

Tapp’s mother, Vera Tapp, also attended Wednesday’s court hearing, with Tapp’s friend John Thomas, who served as his public defender through his exoneration process.

“We would just like to let everybody know that we want the process to work itself out,” Thomas told reporters following the hearing. “We’re not here to influence anybody, we just want justice to be served.”

Thomas said that the hearing brought out a “flood of emotions” in Tapp’s family, who declined to speak with reporters.

During the hearing, Chesnoff told Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman that the defense would like to request evidence of Tapp’s records from his time in prison.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Binu Palal said the request was “a little premature” and added that the state “does not agree that they’re entitled” to those records.

Meanwhile, Thomas said Tapp’s time in prison was well documented and covered by several national news outlets after he was exonerated.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” Thomas said.

Tapp’s friends previously told the Review-Journal that after he received his settlement, he got more and more into fast cars and racing culture. His connections with street racing led him to visit Las Vegas and attend the party in a Resorts World suite, his friends said.

According to police documents, Rodimer’s stepdaughter attended the party at Resorts World with two other friends. One of her friends told police the group had used cocaine during the party, and Tapp walked into the room and “began to use cocaine” as well.

Another witness told police he heard Rodimer’s stepdaughter tell Rodimer that Tapp offered her cocaine. The witness said he later heard Rodimer telling Tapp, “If you ever talk to my daughter again, I’ll f—-ing kill you,” followed by loud banging noises, according to the documents.

Tapp was taken to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where he died on Nov. 5. Police announced in January that his death was being investigated as a homicide.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for May 21, but Palal said prosecutors are still determining if they will bring the case to a grand jury instead.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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