Math Whiz Guilty of 1st-Degree Murder

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Associated Press

A gambling math whiz accused of sexually assaulting two teen-age models and strangling their elderly chaperons was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Superior Court jury on Thursday.

Herbert Coddington, 29, hung his head and turned away from cameras as the verdict was announced, culminating a two-month trial. Jurors deliberated about four hours.

The decision could mean that Coddington will face the death penalty.

His attorneys said they will attempt to prove Coddington’s plea of innocent by reason of insanity. If attorneys are successful, Coddington would face psychiatric treatment. If they fail, the jury will be asked to determine the sentence, either a life prison term or death.


Coddington was convicted of first-degree murder in the strangling deaths of Reno modeling agency owner Maybelle (Mabs) Martin, 67, and her friend, Dorothy Walsh, 73, at his South Lake Tahoe mobile home in May, 1987.

He was also found guilty of sexually attacking two girls, then aged 12 and 14, who were Martin’s clients and who were being chaperoned by the older women. He was convicted of one count of rape, one count of forced oral copulation and two counts of molestation.

Coddington lured the four to his home, killing the women and imprisoning the girls in a specially built soundproof chamber in his bedroom. The girls were freed two days later after FBI agents traced a license plate and raided the home.

Coddington, a recognized author of gambling tracts and considered a math whiz by his friends, was born in Morristown, N.J., attended high school in New York state and lived in Florida before moving to Las Vegas, where he lived for about five years before moving north in early 1986.

In Las Vegas, he is accused of killing Sheila Keister, 12, whose battered body was found in the desert in August, 1981, just outside Las Vegas, where she was abducted while playing.

Coddington was charged with that crime last July after a forensic scientist determined that a bite mark on the girl’s body was made by Coddington. That case has not come to trial.