Judge rules insurance policies admissible evidence against former attorney charged with murder
Loop North News


(Above) Donnie and Noreen Rudd on August 18, 1973, 28 days before Noreen died. Donnie, now 75 years old, with careers in law and medicine, is accused of killing her.

23-Oct-17 – Insurance policies that paid a former Chicago attorney more than $100,000 in the early 1970s will be admissible as evidence against him in his trial for murder.

Dr. Donnie Rudd Dr. Donnie Rudd (left) is accused of killing his wife, Noreen Rudd, in 1973 by striking her in the head. She was found unresponsive by police in the passenger seat of a car on what is now Dundee Road in Barrington Hills, Illinois. Rudd said he was run off the road by an oncoming car in their lane and Noreen was thrown from the vehicle.

A coroner’s jury determined the death was accidental. 40 years later, in 2013, after an autopsy by the Kane County Coroner’s Office, it was ruled a homicide.

Prosecutors say proceeds from the insurance policies provided motive for Rudd to kill his wife. After five hours of testimony on September 13 that produced a 218-page transcript, and half a day of oral arguments on October 6, Circuit Court Judge Marc W. Martin agreed to allow the evidence, issuing his ruling on October 17.

Young librarian had two insurance policies

Noreen was 19 years old when she died and had been married to Donnie for just 28 days. She was a librarian for Quaker Oats, working at the same research and development center in Barrington where Donnie worked.

She had two insurance policies – a $100,000 life insurance policy from Continental Casualty Company, a subsidiary of CNA Financial Corporation, and an accident insurance policy from Prudential Financial that paid, tax-free, 25 percent of her annual salary for five years. Donnie Rudd was the beneficiary of both policies.

James Weichert (right), a benefits administrator at Quaker Oats from 1972 to 1976, testified at the September hearing that Noreen had opted for accident insurance benefits based on three times her salary, which he said was not common for someone without children. James Weichert

But even with the option, the cost of both policies was modest, according to Weichert. The $100,000 life insurance policy cost Noreen $3.90 per month, the equivalent of $21.18 today.

After Noreen died, Rudd started receiving payouts on the salary-based policy and in January 1974, he got $100,000 from the life insurance policy, the equivalent of $543,183 today.

Rudd has never denied receiving the money but contends the policies were inadmissible as evidence because he did not know of them until after Noreen died.

State says policies link Rudd to murder

Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy said on October 6 that with the insurance policies as evidence, “it all makes perfect sense.”

Maria McCarthy “He killed his wife for the oldest motive in the world – he needed the money,” said McCarthy (left). “Noreen meant nothing to him. She was a means to an end. She served a purpose. She was a brief blip in his life.”

McCarthy portrayed Rudd as calculating, marrying Noreen just to get the insurance payouts, and Noreen as less “savvy.”

Rudd’s attorney, Timothy Grace, said there is no evidence Rudd knew he was the beneficiary. And Noreen was probably smarter than she was portrayed, pointing out she was a librarian “in a pre-Google world.”

Said Grace (right), “Who says she wasn’t savvy? She hooked a lawyer.”

Timothy Grace

Marc Martin Judge Martin, however, said in his ruling it was obvious that Donnie “had more financial sophistication” than Noreen and could have known about the insurance policies before she died.

“With marriage comes intimacy, including potentially sharing details about life insurance – at least a jury could reasonably find,” wrote Martin (left).

Martin warned that the state must lay a “a reasonable foundation, beyond mere suspicion” that Rudd knew of the policies before Noreen died.

On March 13, 2017, Judge Martin ruled that statements made by Rudd to police in 2013 will be admissible in his trial. Rudd had complained that when he waived his right to have an attorney present at an interview with an Arlington Heights police sergeant, he did not know the sergeant had a warrant for his arrest.

Rudd’s next hearing is scheduled for December 14.

 Previous story: Insurance policies motive for former condo attorney to murder wife, says prosecutor

By Steven Dahlman | Loop North News | sdahlman@loopnorth.com

Published 23-Oct-17 4:58 AM

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