The dentist accused of murdering his wife during an African safari and then covering up her death in order to be with his mistress and collect millions of insurance dollars will take the stand in his federal trial.
Attorney David Markus said in opening statements Wednesday that Larry Rudolph will testify during the three week trial with no conditions because he “knows the truth is on his side.”
Rudolph, 67, is being tried for murder and mail fraud.
Markus insisted that Bianca Rudolph’s death was an accident, and that her husband was in the bathroom with “issues” when he heard the gunshot. He told the jury that she was packing the gun as the couple was readying to catch a flight home from Zambia. He said the gun went off when it fell. The shot, he said, penetrated a soft gun case.
Rudolph had his wife cremated in Africa, which prosecutors say was suspicious because it was against her wishes as a Catholic. Rudolph's attorneys said she asked to be cremated in her will.
"Bianca was not some long-suffering wife," said markus, arguing she was the one who first took on extra-marital lovers early in the marriage.
Federal prosecutors hinged their investigation on ballistics from the 25-year old shotgun, which had never been used until the fatal shot, blood spatter evidence, and witness statements which indicate that Rudolph and a former dental hygienist-office manager from his lucrative Pittsburgh dental practice were having a long-time affair.
They believe Rudolph wanted to finally be free of his wife and schemed to use $4.8 million in insurance money from her death to finally live with the “love of his life.”
Lori Milliron, a 64 year old grandmother, is also on trial for lying to the grand jury about their relationship, charged with obstruction of justice, perjury and accessory after the fact. Milliron met Rudolph in 2003 when she first started working for Three Rivers Dental in Pittsburgh.
The two of them began traveling the world together, according to their attorneys, at least 65 days a year between 2004 and 2009. She told a grand jury, which convened this past January and February, that they had sex “occasionally.”
But prosecutors told a different story. They said the two began living together not long after Bianca’s death. Their narrative describes Rudolph as a money-grubbing, philandering dentist whose dream was to bag an animal on each continent. Milliron received tens of thousands of dollars cash payments from him in 2014 and 2015 and then was given a credit card after Bianca’s death.
Milliron is not in custody and the alleged lovers are both in the courtroom surrounded by each other’s attorneys. They rarely made eye contact and neither showed emotion during Wednesday’s opening statements.
Also in the courtroom were Rudolph’s two grown children, AnaBianca, a dentist, and Julian, an attorney. They stood up arm-in-arm when they were introduced to the jury by their father's attorney. The two arrived and left the courthouse together and sat directly behind the defense tables in support of their dad.
A key witness in the prosecution’s case will be a bartender at a posh Phoenix steakhouse where Rudolph and Milliron were regulars. In 2020, Brian Lovelace told law enforcement that he overheard a stunning conversation between the couple where he was serving them just as an overhead music loop was shifting songs.
“In that moment,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Bishop Grewell told the jury, “Larry Rudolph growled, ‘I killed my f... wife for you!'" To which Milliron stormed out of the restaurant, Grewell said.
Rudolph’s attorney took issue with Bishop’s account of the conversation, saying the two were actually arguing about Rudolph’s son being on the dental office payroll. What the dentist actually yelled, markus told the jury, was “I have bigger issues! They’re saying I f... killed my wife for you!”
Each person on the 12-person two-alternate jury has an IPad on which to view exhibits, and a pad and pencil. Six are men and eight are women. Before the trial started Wednesday morning, Ruldolph's attorneys took issue with the fact that the single Black juror in the original pool was struck, but U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez resolved the complaint.
Though Bianca Rudolph's death occurred in remote southern-central Africa and the parties lived in Pittsburgh at the time, the trial is being held in Denver only because one of the insurance companies is based in Colorado. It is expected to last three weeks.