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Lawrence “Larry” Rudolph, 67, was found guilty on Monday of murdering his wife by shooting her during an African safari trip in 2016.
The wealthy dentist was convicted of murder and mail fraud for cashing in on nearly $5 million in accidental death and life insurance polices after killing his wife of 34 years, Bianca Rudolph.
Assistant US Attorney Bryan Fields told jurors that the couple, big-game hunting enthusiasts, were wrapping up a trip to Kafue National Park in Zambia on Oct. 11, 2016, when she was shot once in the heart with a hunting rifle.
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Attorneys for Lawrence Rudolph argued that his wife accidently killed herself when she dropped the gun while hurriedly packing at about 5:30 am
But Fields countered that the angle of the shot slightly above Bianca Rudolph and 2 to 3.5 feet away from her could not have been caused by the gun accidentally firing.
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Prosecutors told the jury that Rudolph killed his wife so he could be with his office-assistant-turned-mistress Lori Milliron, who was also found guilty on Monday of being an accessory after the fact to murder, obstruction of a grand jury, and two counts of perjury.
The dentist, who owned a successful dental franchise in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, had a net worth of $15 million that he didn’t want to split with his wife in the event of a divorce, according to prosecutors.
Local Zambian authorities and the insurance companies, which conducted their own investigations, concluded that Bianca’s death was an accident.
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Lawrence Rudolph’s conduct after the killing was suspicious, Assistant US Attorney Garreth Winstead told jurors. He filed the insurance claim the day before his wife’s funeral, went to Las Vegas with a woman who was not his mistress the day after the funeral and invited Milliron to move into his home that same month.
Most damning, though, was the claim that Lawrence Rudolph confessed within earshot of a bartender at a steakhouse in Phoenix near Paradise Valley, Arizona, where he and Milliron bought a home together.
The bartender said in early 2020 that he overheard Rudolph say, “I killed my f—–g wife for you!” Rudolph testified that he’d actually said, “Now they’re saying I killed my f—–g wife for you!” after learning that the FBI was investigating him.
Rudolph tested last week that he had an open marriage and was content in his relationship. “I would not murder my wife,” he told jurors on the stand.
Defense lawyer David Markus argued that his client may not be likable, but that doesn’t make him a murderer.
After court ended Friday, Rudolph looked toward his two adult children, Anabianca and Julian Rudolph, sitting in the courtroom gallery. He made a sign of the cross before being led out a side door. The children have supported their father.
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The trial was held in Denver because the insurance companies that Rudolph ripped off are located in Colorado.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.