Missouri woman acquitted of murder in teen daughter’s death

FILE - This photo provided by the Ozark County, Missouri, sheriff's office shows Rebecca Ruud....
FILE - This photo provided by the Ozark County, Missouri, sheriff's office shows Rebecca Ruud. A judge on Friday, July 29, 2022, found Ruud not guilty of first- and second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and felony abuse or neglect of a child but found her guilty on the remaining charge, illegally abandoning a corpse. The charges stemmed from the July 2017 death of 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, whose remains were found in a burn pit on Ruud's remote property near the Arkansas-Missouri border. (AP Photo/Ozark County Sheriff's Office)(AP)
Published: Jul. 29, 2022 at 3:43 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A judge on Friday acquitted a southwestern Missouri woman on murder and two other felony charges in the death of the autistic teenage daughter that she gave up for adoption as a baby.

Greene County Circuit Court Judge Calvin Holden found Rebecca Ruud not guilty of first- and second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and felony abuse or neglect of a child but found her guilty on the remaining charge, illegally abandoning a corpse.

The charges stemmed from the July 2017 death of 16-year-old Savannah Leckie, whose remains were found in a burn pit on Ruud’s remote property near the Arkansas-Missouri border.

Ruud is scheduled to be sentenced on the last charge Sept. 15 by Holden, who heard the case instead of a jury in Springfield after a change of venue from Ozark County to the southwest.

Ruud could get up to four years in prison.

Prosecutors described Savannah as the victim of severe abuse after she left her adoptive family in Minnesota and moved to Missouri to be with her biological mother.

Ruud said the girl disappeared after running away because she blamed herself for starting a fire on the family’s property.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office declined to comment about the judge’s decision.

A public defender representing Ruud did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment.

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