Martin’s Appeal is Rejected, He is Sentenced to 75 to 150 Years
Democratic Judge Marc Martin of Cook County, Illinois, was not persuaded by former attorney 76-year-old Donnie Rudd’s argument that his wife, Noreen, had died in a 1973 car accident. Rudd was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder in July of this year. He denied involvement, and his attorney vowed to appeal the decision.
“They put together a circumstantial case built on innuendos and painted him as a bad guy,” said Rudd’s attorney, Tim Grace, at the time of the original verdict, stating they would appeal. He added, “It’s outrageous to convict anyone on the testimony of someone trying to make a buck on a book…I’m not asking you to like a guy who cheats on his girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean he committed murder.”
Martin gave Rudd a sentence of 75 to 150 years in prison after the appeal was rejcted. He was sentenced under 1973 guidelines, which make him eligible for parole in eleven years. Prosecutors argued the crash was staged to support Rudd’s life with another woman, and Rudd collected $120,000 from life insurance policies after it happened.
Rudd had been living with another woman, Dianne Hart, when he suddenly announced he was marrying Noreen, according to testimony by Dianne Hart’s daughter, Lori Hart. Noreen Rudd died less than a month later, and Rudd immediately returned to Dianne Hart. Hart then married Rudd a few months later. She died of breast cancer in 1996.
Three pathologists who testified for the prosecution stated they believed Noreen died from being struck in the head with a blunt object and said her injuries were inconsistent with being thrown from a car in a crash. One of the pathologists completed the autopsy of the body.
A police investigator said he received court permission to exhume Noreen Rudd’s body after seeing notes about her death in the case file of another murdered woman, Loretta Tabak-Bodtke. Tabak-Bodtke had threatened to report Donnie Rudd to ethics regulators before her shooting death in 1991.
Rudd was disbarred by consent in 1994. The statement of charges against the former attorney included misrepresenting the status and success of court cases to clients, failing to explain a bad settlement deal to a client, and using his Fifth Amendment rights in the unsolved slaying of client Tabak-Bodtke.
Tabak-Bodtke’s daughter, Stephanie Tabak, attended the trial, and said at the time, “I’ve been hoping and praying for 27 years to see justice in my mom’s case. But I’m happy that Noreen’s family has seen justice in her case.”
Rudd has declined treatment for stage 2 colon cancer and Cook County prosecutor Maria McCarthy said she believed he wouldn’t be getting out of prison during his lifetime. During the trial, McCarthy had argued, “The defendant made it look like an accident, and he fooled a lot of people. After sentencing, she said, “I hope every killer who’s out there and has yet to be caught looks at this case and knows they can never stop looking over their shoulder and waiting for that knock on the door.” Martin added Rudd “was living a diabolical secret life and preyed upon a young woman, Noreen Kumeta. The crime is egregious because Noreen loved and trusted Mr. Rudd.”