Dede Evavold, who was found guilty for her role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, is appealing her conviction, according to documents filed yesterday afternoon with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Evavold was charged in December 2015 related to her involvement in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters were taken by their mother near their home on the night of April 19, 2013, during a custody and divorce dispute involving their parents – Sandra Grazzini-Rucki and David Rucki.
She was convicted in September on six felony counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance the girls.
Evavold will serve as her own attorney
Evavold is not an attorney, but is an activist, who also ran a blog focused on exposing what Evavold and her supporters believe are injustices and corruption in the judicial system.
She served as her own attorney during her criminal trial and she will serve as her own attorney for the appeal. During her criminal trial, Evavold did not offer any evidence on her behalf, nor did she cross-examine any witness or give an opening or closing statement during her trial.
Evavold is a strong opponent of family courts and attended numerous court hearings in Dakota County involving the Rucki family, providing assistance to Grazzini-Rucki and MacDonald.
The court document for Evavold’s appeal were served and delivered to the court by Tim Kinley, the former host of a cable-access show which focused on alleged “corruption” in the court system.
Evavold paid the $550 fee to file the appeal, and publicly available court records show Evavold made a $250 payment toward the over $12,000 in restitution, fines, and fees assessed by Dakota County related to her conviction.
Evavold will remain on probation for eight years
Starting in 2018, Evavold will serve 15 days in jail on April 19 for the next six years – the anniversary of the day the Rucki sisters disappeared. Evavold must also serve 12 days of Sentencing of Service for the next eight years.
Evavold will also pay $10,000 to the Minnesota Crime Victims Reparations Board. She must also pay two fines of $944, which represents the 944 days the Rucki sisters were missing.
Judge Karen Asphaug prohibited Evavold from mentioning the Rucki family in any social media postings and she cannot harass the family.
Just days after being released from jail, Evavold wrote a post for social media which mentioned the Rucki family, which is likely a violation of her probation.
Evavold is also prohibited from being involved directly or indirectly as an advocate in family court cases.
The court also barred Evavold from having any contact with minor children and she must undergo a forensic psychological evaluation and cognitive skills evaluation.
In October, Evavold wrote a threatening handwritten letter claiming “that from jail, I can use the truth” to “completely destroy [the] blackened reputation” of judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, and elected officials from Dakota County.
Evavold’s request to serve the remainder of her jail sentence for 2016 and 2017 on electronic home monitoring was denied twice by Judge Karen Karen Asphaug.
Judge said Evavold “showed no remorse” for her crimes
Judge Asphaug said Evavold “showed no remorse or comprehension” for her actions against the Rucki family, adding that Evavold’s actions “disrupted a family for 944 days.”
Evavold was sentenced last November in Dakota County to serve 180 days in jail and she will remain on probation for the next eight years for her role in the disappearance of the two sisters from Lakeville.
Evavold is a close friend and confidant of Sandra Grazzini-Rucki, the mother of the Rucki sisters, who she met during Grazzini-Rucki’s divorce with David Rucki. In July, Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty on six counts of deprivation of parental rights for her involvement in the disappearance of her daughters.
Evavold lives in St. Cloud with her husband Darin and their two children. Evavold’s husband was in the courtroom for the sentencing, as were other members of Evavold’s family.
Evavold’s sister wrote a letter to Judge Asphaug claiming that Evavold has an “undiagnosed mental illness”.
Missing for 944 days
On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the Rucki sisters were found living on a rural ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department.
The ranch is owned by Douglas Dahlen and his wife, Gina Dahlen, who were also criminally charged related to the disappearance of the girls.
Last month, the Dahlens each pleaded guilty to one count of depravation of parental rights for their role in the disappearance of two sisters from Lakeville, Minnesota.
David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing.
Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.
Evavold knew location of missing girls
According to criminal complaints, Samantha and Gianna Rucki were delivered to the Dahlen’s residence in northern Minnesota on April 21, 2013 by Evavold and Grazzini-Rucki.
During Evavold’s criminal trial, Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena provided the jury with numerous examples of how Evavold withheld information from law enforcement and the girls’ father about the location of the missing sisters.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Matthew Palmer testified at Evavold’s trial that he interviewed Evavold at her home on August 25, 2015 about the disappearance of the Rucki sisters.
Palmer said he asked Evavold if the Rucki girls were in danger or dead, in which Evavold responded, “for all I know, they could be.”
Two officers with the Lakeville police department testified that Evavold’s phone contained audio files of the missing sisters talking and pictures taken after they disappeared in 2013 which helped pinpoint their location.
Judge Asphaug described Evavold at her sentencing hearing as “the intermediary” who “made it possible for [the Rucki children] to be secreted away from their father and siblings for 944 days.”
Evavold connected to Michelle MacDonald
Evavold previously served as Michelle MacDonald’s campaign manager for MacDonald’s campaign for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2014. MacDonald ran for the Minnesota Supreme Court in 2016 against Justice Natalie Hudson and Evavold was listed as the chair of MacDonald’s campaign until May 2016.
According to MacDonald’s most recent campaign finance report, MacDonald owes Evavold $2,635.04 for public relations and mileage expenses.
MacDonald serves as Sandra Grazzini-Rucki’s family court attorney and was labeled as a “person of interest” last year by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki – a label which law enforcement confirmed has not been removed from MacDonald.
MacDonald was labeled in April 2015 as a “person of interest” by the Lakeville Police Department in the disappearance of Samantha and Gianna Rucki. MacDonald refused to cooperate with the Lakeville Police Department’s investigation into her possible involvement in the disappearance of the sisters – even after public statements from her that she would cooperate in the investigation.
Her criminal defense attorney, Stephen Grigsby, said in 2015 that he would advise MacDonald to not speak with the Lakeville Police Department.
MacDonald attended portions of Grazzini-Rucki’s criminal trial and her sentencing hearing, but MacDonald did not attend any of Evavold’s trial.