‘Tragic accident’ or murder? Trial continues in 1973 death of Chicago-area woman

ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — Prosecutors began making their case against a 76-year-old man they contend killed his wife in 1973 in a staged traffic crash in suburban Chicago so that he could collect more than $100,000 in insurance.

In opening statements on Tuesday, a Cook County prosecutor said Donnie Rudd married 19-year-old Noreen Kumeta Rudd so he could kill her. She died a month after the two married.

But Rudd’s attorney told jurors the woman died in a “tragic accident” and said there was no evidence that Rudd knew about his wife’s insurance policies.

Authorities initially ruled the death accidental. It was classified as a homicide after a 2013 autopsy. Rudd, an attorney and onetime suburban school board member, was charged with first-degree murder in 2015 when he was living in Sugar Land, Texas.

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