Jury picked for trial of man charged with murdering new bride in 1973
With jury selection concluded Monday afternoon, opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday in the trial of a former Northwest suburban attorney charged with murdering his second wife nearly 45 years ago and staging it to look like an accident.
Donnie Rudd, 76, was charged nearly three years ago with the murder of 19-year-old newlywed Noreen Kumeta Rudd, whose Sept. 14, 1973, death was classified as accidental after Rudd told police she was thrown from their car after it was run off the road by another driver in Barrington Township. Authorities reconsidered that finding in 2013 when Arlington Heights police exhumed Kumeta's body as part of an investigation into the unsolved 1991 death of Arlington Heights interior designer Loretta Tabak-Bodtke, who had hired Donnie Rudd to represent her in a business dispute. Arlington Heights police say Rudd remains a suspect in that case but has not been charged.
A Kane County pathologist autopsied Kumeta's remains and determined she died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head and ruled her death a homicide. Two other medical examiners concurred with the Kane County ruling.
Police arrested Rudd at his Sugar Land, Texas, home in December 2015. Prosecutors say he killed Kumeta to collect on life insurance policies totaling $120,000.
Rudd has pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Timothy Grace said he intends to call an expert who will testify Kumeta died from the injuries she sustained during the single vehicle accident.
Police have not indicated why they exhumed Kumeta's body as part of their investigation in the murder of Tabak-Bodtke, who was found shot to death in her Arlington Heights townhouse on April 4, 1991.
Prosecutors say Rudd claimed he had won Tabak-Bodtke's lawsuit against her business partner and promised to deposit a judgment totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars into her account. When he failed to do so, prosecutors say Tabak-Bodtke threatened to report Rudd to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which they say had received similar complaints from other Rudd clients.
Rudd was disbarred in 1994 for fraud and unlawful conduct, according to the ARDC.
If convicted of first-degree murder, Rudd faces a minimum of 14 years in prison and an indeterminate maximum sentence according to 1973 sentencing guidelines.