Day 1 of the trial has wrapped. The trial will resume Tuesday morning at 9:30 am. Find our coverage and Livestream of day two of the trial here.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A key piece of evidence was presented Monday as a bench trial began for Rebecca Ruud, an Ozark County mother accused of killing her 16-year-old daughter.
Monday prosecutors played a recording between Rebecca Ruud and her lawyer where Ruud admits to burning her daughter’s body. The recording is part of the reason Ruud’s trial was delayed because the decision on whether it could be played in court went to the Missouri Supreme Court.
The court decided the recording could be played and Judge Calvin Holden heard the one-hour recording Monday.
On the tape, Ruud said her daughter killed herself. Ruud then admitted to finding her body and taking it to a burn pile.
Ruud’s defense attorney said although Ruud admitted to burning her daughter’s body, she did not kill Savannah Leckie. Her attorney said in court there is no evidence Leckie was murdered.
During opening statements Monday, Prosecutors said the judge will hear from the former Ozark County Sheriff about the case. Prosecutors will also call Robert Peat, Junior, who was Rebecca Ruud’s boyfriend at the time. He is also charged in Savannah Leckie’s death. The state said Ruud claimed her daughter overdosed on drugs, however, prosecutors claim they will call witnesses to the stand who said that Ruud killed her daughter deliberately.
Ruud’s defense said in opening statements that the defendant suffered a history of abuse in her childhood and detailed in the opening statements how Ruud fought to have custody of Savannah Leckie. Defense attorneys also said the teen had struggled with mental health and suicidal ideations.
Background information on Savannah Leckie’s death and charges against Rebecca Ruud
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — An Ozark County woman who is accused of killing and dismembering her teenage daughter began Monday (6/27/22) morning in a Greene County courtroom. The trial is expected to last three or four days.
Rebecca Ruud’s trial is a bench trial, meaning there will be no jury, and Greene County Judge Calvin Holden will make a ruling based on the evidence and will hand down the sentence. Holden may rule the week of the trial but can also take the case under advisement and rule at a later time.
Ruud reported her 16-year-old daughter Savannah Leckie missing on July 20, 2017. The teen’s remains were later discovered, burned on Ruud`s property near Theodosia.
The Ozark County Sheriff told OzarksFirst back in 2017 that investigators saw “red flags” early in this investigation after the Savannah went missing and that’s when they obtained a search warrant for this property.
Prosecutors charged Ruud and her husband Robert Peat, Jr. with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse.
Ruud married Peat on Friday, August 4, 2017, the same day Leckie’s remains were found. The Ozark County Sheriff arrested them both a few days later. A trial date for Peat has not been set yet.