A multimillionaire dentist has been found guilty of murder and mail fraud in connection with the shooting death of his wife on an African safari.
A jury of six men and six women reached the verdict Monday for Lawrence "Larry" Rudolph following 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 cashing in $4.8 million in life insurance claims in what prosecutors describe as a premeditated crime. Some of the money was paid out of Colorado so he was tried in Denver federal court.
He faces a maximum term of life in prison or the death penalty when he is sentenced.
Rudolph had claimed the shooting was accidental and self-inflicted.
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.
But prosecutors said that was impossible because the wound to her heart came from a shot fired from 2 to 3.5 feet away.
When he returned home to Phoenix days later, Rudolph said he put the shotgun in his garage not wanting to look at it. Then sometime in 2018, as he was preparing to sell his house and before he found out the FBI was investigating his wife's death, he said he took the gun apart, put it into two cardboard boxes and paid a man cash to haul it away with along with other trash.
Prosecutors alleged that Rudolph decided to kill his wife to regain control over his life after Bianca Rudolph asked for more say in the couple’s finances.
The defense argued there was no financial incentive for Rudolph, who was worth about $15 million at the time, to kill his wife.
Investigators in Zambia and for the insurers concluded her death was an accident. Prosecutors noted that Rudolph hung up on an insurance investigator who tried to speak with him and declined to participate in a voluntary interview with an FBI agent.
Rudolph's lawyers say they plan an appeal.
With the Associated Press.