After six hours of deliberation, an Ada County jury sided with the prosecution Tuesday, finding Adam Bodenbach guilty of first-degree murder for the death of 20-year-old Ryan Banks.
To hear Bodenbach and his lawyer tell it, Bodenbach was attacked with a knife and defended himself when he fatally shot Banks at the Boise apartment complex where both men lived.
But according to the prosecution, Bodenbach was enraged over an earlier fight when he assembled and loaded his handgun and briefly laid in wait outside Banks’ apartment after midnight on Jan. 6. Prosecutors and a mutual friend who witnessed the fatal altercation said Banks did not show a knife that night, but he did lunge at Bodenbach to try to disarm him.
After seven days of testimony and about three hours of closing arguments Tuesday, the jury of eight men and four women returned their verdict about 7 p.m.: guilty of first-degree murder with an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon and guilty y of felony possession of a cocaine.
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Bodenbach could face up to life in prison when he is sentenced Nov. 3.
Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Ben Harmer alleged 31-year-old Bodenbach took one of Banks’ knives, visible and reachable through an open window, and planted it near the shooting scene after a friend dragged the mortally wounded Banks inside an apartment.
Defense attorney Doug Nelson said during trial that allegation is ridiculous and not supported by any evidence. He stressed that Banks owned the knife that was found on the walkway near where he was shot, and witnesses said Banks routinely carried that knife, concealed.
Harmer countered that the large knife had fibers on it that were also found in one of Bodenbach’s pockets. Moments after the shooting, Bodenbach reportedly told another resident he defended himself against a knife attack, pointed out the knife in the snow and picked it up.
Dueling theories about the knife were among many points of dispute that a jury of eight men and four women weighed when deciding whether Bodenbach was guilty of first-degree murder or a lesser offense.
Fourth District Judge Steven Hippler told jurors that if they couldn’t unanimously agree that Bodenbach committed first-degree murder they should consider whether he committed second-degree murder, which does not require the elements of premeditation and willful action. Then, if jurors couldn’t agree on that charge, they were instructed by Hippler to discuss whether the crime was a heat-of-the-moment killing punishable as voluntary manslaughter.
Harmer urged the stiffest-possible verdict. Nelson said the shooting was legally justified, and that the only crime of which Bodenbach was proven guilty was possession of cocaine.
Nelson reminded jurors of a Boise police officer’s testimony that when police responded to Park Village Apartments near Boise State University that night, Bodenbach was holding the knife above his head in a manner that appeared threatening.
If Bodenbach hadn’t dropped the knife when commanded to do so, the officer would have been justified in shooting to kill, Nelson said, asserting that “the same is true of Adam Bodenbach” when he shot the man he claimed was pulling a knife on him.
After the fatal shooting, Bodenbach put his gun back in his apartment and called 911, saying, “I was just attacked in my apartment … he came into my house … tried to stab me with a knife.”
Prosecutor Harmer played excerpts of that call and other Bodenbach statements to police for the jury, saying that on eight separate occasions the suspect claimed he shot Banks in self-defense in connection with an altercation in Bodenbach’s room earlier that night.
Bodenbach repeatedly stated that he had the right to use lethal force and had told Banks that, but his lethal actions came an hour or more after the altercation that angered him, the prosecutor said.
“You don’t get to have a rain check for self-defense,” Harmer said.
The earlier fight happened when Bodenbach wanted to borrow friend Jacob Kimsey’s car and Kimsey declined because of snowy, dangerous roads, according to police and court records. Bodenbach got angry, Kimsey pushed him away, and Banks intervened, pinning Bodenbach on his bed until Kimsey pulled Banks away, Harmer said. Kimsey earlier testified about that altercation and the shooting and said he did not see a knife on Banks at any time that night.
Kimsey served as peacemaker, reportedly taking Banks back to his apartment and calming him down before going to check on Bodenbach, whom he described in testimony as “a little tornado,” tearing up his apartment in an attempt to find his gun, which be believed Banks had stolen.
Bodenbach eventually located, reassembled and loaded his gun, took some extra shells and changed his clothing before heading out into the subzero weather to confront Banks, Harmer said. He said Bodenbach stopped outside Banks’ apartment, watching Banks and Kimsey talking and possibly seeing the knife on a table just inside the window.
When Banks and Kimsey went outside to have a cigarette, Harmer said, Bodenbach confronted Banks with gun drawn, saying “you thought I was … kidding you, punk?” Banks tried to wrestle the gun away and was shot.
Defense attorney Nelson said Bodenbach went to Banks’ apartment because he was worried about Kimsey and wanted to protect him from Banks. He said Bodenbach didn’t pull out his gun until he was attacked by Banks, a considerably larger man that Bodenbach.
He stressed that Bodenbach’s initial statements to police repeatedly contended Banks had tried to kill him. “When people say things in the heat of the moment like that, you can believe what they say,” Nelson said.
Kristin Rodine: 208-377-6447