Disbarred attorney pleads not guilty to 1973 Barrington Township murder
A disbarred former Northwest suburban attorney on Friday pleaded not guilty to charges he murdered his wife in 1973, less than a month after their marriage.
Donnie Rudd, 73, is accused of murdering 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta Rudd, whom he met when both worked at Quaker Oats in Barrington.
At his hearing in Rolling Meadows Circuit Court, state's attorneys confirmed to the court that jail conversations between Rudd and his attorney, Timothy Grace, had accidentally been recorded, but that Grace had been informed immediately and the recordings destroyed without anyone listening to them.
"The assistant state's attorney immediately informed me and I commend them for that," Grace said.
Rudd is being held on $4 million bail in Cook County jail. Telephone conversations with inmates are routinely recorded, unless they involve the inmate and an attorney to protect attorney-client privilege.
Also today, Grace asked the court to review Rudd's bail. A determination on that request is expected at Rudd's next hearing Feb. 11.
According to authorities, Noreen Kumeta Rudd was found lying across Rudd's lap in their car after what was initially believed to be an accident near Dundee and Bateman roads in Barrington Township on Sept. 14, 1973.
No autopsy was performed on Noreen until 2012, after authorities exhumed her body as part of a renewed investigation into a 1991 Arlington Heights murder in which police suspected Rudd.
A Kane County coroner ruled Noreen's death a homicide, listing blunt force trauma as the cause. Prosecutors say Rudd killed her and staged the crash in order to collect life insurance policies worth $120,000.
Grace called the allegations "conjecture" and "insinuation."
"There's no solid case here," he said.
Prosecutors say Rudd remains a suspect in the April 4, 1991, shooting death of Arlington Heights interior designer Loretta Tabak-Bodtke. Rudd, who served as Tabak-Bodtke's lawyer in a business dispute, was seen leaving Tabak-Bodtke's townhouse the day of the murder, prosecutors said.
They say Rudd told Tabak-Bodtke he settled her case for several hundred thousand dollars. After he failed to deposit the funds in her account, Tabak-Bodtke threatened to report him to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, where several other clients had lodged similar complaints against him.
Rudd was disbarred in 1994 for engaging in unlawful and fraudulent conduct, ARDC records show.
He was extradited from his Sugar Land, Texas, home in December. According to his attorney, Rudd suffers from cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection which required hospitalization after he returned to Illinois.