In life in prison, a former Chicago lawyer filed a petition with the Supreme Court in a final attempt to overturn his 2018 conviction for a murder that the Cook County Circuit Court says committed in 1973.
3-Oct-21 ?? Dr Donnie Rudd, serving, at the age of 79, a sentence of 75 to 150 years at the Pinckneyville Correctional Center in Pinckneyville, Illinois, asks the United States Supreme Court to review a decision of the Court of Appeals for the Illinois and overturn his conviction for the murder of his wife 48 years ago.
Rudd has claimed his innocence since the Cold Case investigation began in 2012. He was convicted on July 2, 2018, after a five-day trial. The Court of Appeals dismissed his appeal in 2020. The Illinois Supreme Court even refused in January to hear the case.
At issue are Rudd’s Sixth Amendment rights, in particular his right to counsel, and when exactly did they come into effect ?? when he first appeared in court in 2015 or when he was questioned by police in 2013?
Rudd was arrested on December 16, 2015 for the murder of Noreen Kumeta Rudd (left), his wife for only 28 days, September 14, 1973. He was 31 years old. Noreen was 19.
Late at night, driving on what is now Route 68 near Bateman Road in Cook County, Rudd says an oncoming car in his lane knocked him off the road, causing the ejection of Noreen from his car. He says she hit her head on a rock. His death was deemed accidental, but in 2016, after a four-year investigation by the Arlington Heights Police Department, the exhumation of Noreen’s body and an autopsy, a grand jury indicted Rudd, concluding that he there was evidence that the young woman died from several blows to the head.
The motive, prosecutors said, was a $ 100,000 life insurance policy of which Rudd was the beneficiary. When questioned by police in 2013, Rudd denied knowing he was the beneficiary, but said such a policy was “customary at the time.” and common among employees of Quaker Oats, where he worked as a patent attorney and Noreen as a librarian.
Rudd (right) then unsuccessfully attempted to have the statement deleted, claiming he did not have a lawyer with him as the Sixth Amendment provides. The statement ended up being used against him during his trial.
Rudd says the police didn’t even tell him they had an arrest warrant for him, which they decided not to execute at the time, and so, he says, he wasn’t at the aware of the gravity of his situation.
The Illinois Court of Appeals, however, ruled that Rudd’s Sixth Amendment lawyer entitlement was not in effect during the 2013 police interview, and even if it was, Rudd had waived his right to legal assistance. And even though he was unaware of the arrest warrant, the court said “the gravity of the situation could not have been lost?” ” on him.
His lawyer, Timothy grace of Grace & Thompson at River North, says there is a right to counsel at critical stages ?? of the process.
?? Obviously when you are on trial we call it a critical step, ?? Grace (left) said on Saturday. ?? And there are certain points in the criminal process ?? when you go to bail court, when are you going to your probable cause hearing ?? these are critical steps. Well, other times can also be critical stages, depending on the effort and involvement of the government in the matter. What did they put in the case ???
Grace said that a significant amount of government effort ?? had entered the case before Rudd was questioned in 2013.
?? They had exhumed bodies, they had flown to Atlanta, they had brought witnesses, ?? said Grace. “I think they had contracted with, like, three different doctors and medical pathologists and all kinds of things. So at this point I’m asking the court to say, as other courts have said, don’t you think that this amount of pre-warrant effort would force the state to say, just so you know , you are more than just a murder investigation. [We] you actually have an arrest warrant for murder right now. ??
Grace says the Illinois Supreme Court should have considered whether the trial court jury should have been told that Rudd was the beneficiary of his wife’s insurance policy.
?? It’s so damaging, ??? he said. ?? When you take the insurance proceeds off that thing, there’s really not much of a motive on Donnie’s part. He has a beautiful young bride. Why would he do that ???
Grace says it has never been proven that Rudd knew about the insurance policy. Rudd’s 2013 statements about politics, he says, should have been deleted and not used in his trial.
Competition for court attention
According to US courts, the Supreme Court accepts to hear about 100 to 150 of the more than 7,000 cases it is asked to consider each year.
?? With any luck we catch someone, a lawyer or someone who says this is an interesting question, and it keeps increasing, ?? said Grace.
According to Grace, Rudd has had “a lot of medical issues” including COVID-19, but his brain is still there.
“I was in elementary school when this guy was a lawyer, but after all and based on his history with everything he’s done in the science community, he’s a pretty brilliant guy. . “