A wealthy dentist accused of fatally shooting his wife in the heart with a shotgun at the end of an African safari was found guilty of murder and mail fraud on Monday.
A jury of six men and six women reached a verdict for Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph after a three-week trial and a day and a half of deliberations.
Rudolph, 67, was charged with foreign murder in the 2016 death of Bianca Rudolph in Zambia, as well as mail fraud for collecting $4.8 million in life insurance claims in what prosecutors describe. as a premeditated crime. Some of the money was paid from Colorado, for which he was tried in federal court in Denver.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison or the death penalty when he is 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 said outside court.
The defense suggested Rudolph’s wife of 34 years, a nervous traveler, shot herself while trying to pack a shotgun in a hurry as they prepared to return from Zambia to the United States in 2016.
But prosecutors countered that the evidence showed that was impossible because the wound to his heart came from a gunshot from 2 to 3.5 feet (60 centimeters to 1 meter) away.
The couple’s longtime hunting guide, Mark Swanepoel, told investigators that Rudolph had unloaded the shotgun the day before the fatal shooting, but Rudolph testified that he couldn’t remember whether or not he had.
When he returned home to Phoenix days later, Rudolph said he put the shotgun in his garage without looking at it. Then, sometime in 2018, as he was preparing to sell his house and before learning the FBI was investigating his wife’s death, he said he disassembled the gun, put it in two cardboard boxes and paid a man. in cash to take it away. along with other rubbish.
Prosecutors also charged Rudolph’s girlfriend and manager of his Pittsburgh-area dental franchise, Lori Milliron, with lying to a federal grand jury and being an accessory.
The same jury found her guilty Monday of 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 greeted Milliron as he was led out of court and back into jail after having had no interaction with her in the courtroom in the previous days. Milliron will remain free on 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 asked for more say in the couple’s finances and demanded that Milliron be fired. Rudolph said his wife agreed to an open marriage, and the defense argued there was no financial incentive for Rudolph, who was worth about $15 million at the time, to kill his wife.
Zambian and insurance investigators concluded his death was an accident. Prosecutors say Rudolph hung up on an insurance investigator who tried to talk to him and refused to participate in a voluntary interview with an FBI agent.
Colorado US Attorney Cole Finegan thanked the FBI for traveling around the world to collect evidence and interview 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.