DENVER– A wealthy dentist accused of shooting his wife in the heart with a shotgun at the end of an African safari was convicted of murder and mail fraud on Monday.
A jury of six men and six women returned the verdict for Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph after a three-week trial and a day and a half of deliberations.
Rudolph, 67, was charged with murder abroad in the death of Bianca Rudolph in Zambia in 2016 as well as mail fraud for collecting $4.8 million in life insurance claims in what the prosecutors describe it as a premeditated crime. Some of the money was paid from Colorado, so he was tried in federal court in Denver.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty when sentenced in February.
Rudolph maintained his innocence, and the two adult children he had with his wife sat in court to support him during the trial. One of Rudolph’s defense attorneys, David Markus, said they would appeal his conviction.
“We believe in Larry. We believe in his family,” he told the court.
The defense suggested that Rudolph’s wife of 34 years, a nervous traveler, killed herself while trying to hastily pack a shotgun as they prepared to return from Zambia to the United States. United in 2016.
But prosecutors countered that the evidence showed that was impossible because the injury to his heart came from a shot fired from a distance of 2 to 3.5 feet (60 centimeters to 1 meter).
The couple’s longtime hunting guide, Mark Swanepoel, told investigators that Rudolph unloaded the shotgun the day before the fatal shooting, but Rudolph testified he could not remember if he did. or not.
When he returned home to Phoenix a few days later, Rudolph said he put the shotgun in his garage without wanting to look at it. Then, in 2018, when he was about to sell his house and before finding out the FBI was investigating his wife’s death, he said he took the gun apart, put it in two boxes. cardboard box and had paid a man cash to take it away with other rubbish.
Prosecutors also charged Rudolph’s girlfriend and the manager of his Pittsburgh-area dental franchise, Lori Milliron, with lying to a federal grand jury and being an accomplice.
She was found guilty by the same jury on Monday of being an afterthought accessory to murder, obstruction of a grand jury and two counts of perjury before a grand jury. She was found not guilty on three other counts of perjury.
Rudolph waved at Milliron as he was led out of court and returned to jail after having had no interaction with her in the courtroom the previous days. Milliron will remain free with an ankle monitor until she is sentenced.
Prosecutors alleged that Rudolph decided to kill his wife to regain control of his life after Bianca Rudolph demanded more votes in the couple’s finances and demanded that Milliron be fired. Rudolph said his wife agreed to have an open marriage and the defense argued there was no financial incentive for Rudolph, who was worth around $15 million at the time, to kill his wife.
Investigators in Zambia and for insurers have concluded that his death was an accident. Prosecutors noted that Rudolph hung up on an insurance investigator who tried to speak to him and refused to participate in a voluntary interview with an FBI agent.
Colorado U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan thanked the FBI for traveling around the world collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses in the case and said he hoped the verdict would bring some peace to Bianca Rudolph’s family.
“Bianca Rudolph deserved justice,” he said.
This story has been corrected to say that Lori Milliron was acquitted of three counts of perjury, not two.