SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The first of two planned trials in the Ozark County murder of a 16-year-old girl whose body was burned afterwards was set for late July 2018 at pre-trial conferences for the couple accused in the slaying.
At pretrial conferences for both people charged in the death, Greene County Circuit Judge Calvin Holden ruled today (1/12/18) that jury selection is to begin on July 30 in Cole County for an early-August trial for Robert Peat. He lived on the property where Savannah Leckie’s burned remains were found and married the mother of the dead girl after the remains were found.
Leckie’s mother, Rebecca Ruud, who also lived on the property and is also charged with first-degree murder and other counts in connection with the homicide, is to go on trial after Peat’s trial, the judge ruled.
Holden is hearing the case after both defendants were granted a change of judge from Ozark County. Peat has also requested a change of venue for the trial.
Peat’s Attorney, James Hayes, said today he wants the jury pulled from Cole County and the trial to be held in Greene County. Ozark County Prosecutor John Garrabrant countered that a trial in Greene County would cost Ozark County a lot of money and suggested Taney County as an alternative. Pre-trail conferences could be held in Greene County, he said.
Both defendants are currently scheduled for pretrial conferences in Greene County at 11 a.m. May 18, 2018.
Hayes asked for a trial date in April, but prosecutors said they were not ready for trial that soon. They expect DNA test results from the FBI to be available in 3 to 4 months and said a trial date in August is more realistic.
Holden agreed that waiting for DNA test results is necessary and an August date is probably best. He overruled Peat’s motion for a trial within 120 days. There was no request for the two defendants’ cases to be consolidated into one trial.
Jury selection for Rudd’s trial is set for Aug. 22-23 and that trial is set to begin in Taney County on the following Monday, Aug. 27, 2018, the judge said.