Missouri Supreme Court rules against Rebecca Ruud regarding audio evidence

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — With a decision in favor of the prosecution today, the Missouri Supreme Court has overturned a Greene County judge’s ruling in the murder case against Rebecca Ruud.

Attorneys for Ruud, who is accused of the 2017 death and dismemberment of her daughter Savannah Leckie in Ozark County, had argued attorney-client privilege in an effort to keep a recording between the defendant and her lawyer out of evidence.

In a unanimous decision written by Judge W. Brent Powell, the Supreme Court of Missouri ruled that Ruud had waived that privilege when she voluntarily disclosed the recording to a third party.

With this ruling, the case against Ruud can proceed in the courts. It overturns a ruling by Greene County Circuit Judge Calvin Holden that the recording did fall under privilege and was therefore inadmissible in court.

According to court documents, Ruud gave personal belongings in an unsealed box to her husband Robert Peat for a possible truck-driving trip. She didn’t realize she had put a digital recorder with an incriminating conversation between she and her lawyers Lane and Holder in the box as well.

Peat is also charged in connection with the death of Leckie.

When Peat found the digital recording and the incriminating statements, he told his attorney who contacted the state. Peat turned over the digital recorder to the Ozark County Sheriff’s Office the same day. It has been in the custody of the sheriff’s office since.

According to the Supreme Court ruling, Ruud’s disclosure was voluntary.

“No evidence in the record suggests, nor does Ruud assert, that she was forced or coerced into handing over the box with the recording to Peat. Rather, the record indicates Ruud voluntarily gave the box containing the recording to Peat to prepare for a trip,” the ruling states.

Savannah Leckie was reported missing back on July 20, 2017 by her mother, Rebecca Ruud. Leckies remains were later discovered, burned multiple times on Ruud’s property.

Ruud married Robert Peat Jr, on Friday August 4, 2017, the same day that Leckie’s remains were found. Both were arrested by Ozark County Sheriff Darrin Reed a few days later and were both charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse.

In May of this year, the bench trial for Ruud was canceled due to a pending appeal of a motion to the Missouri Supreme Court regarding whether prosecutors may use the certain recording as evidence in the murder trial, which now can be based on todays Missouri Supreme Court ruling.

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