Sandra Grazzini-Rucki was found guilty this morning on six counts of deprivation of parental rights related to the disappearance of her daughters, Samantha and Gianna Rucki. The sisters ran from their home on April 19, 2013 during a custody and divorce proceeding involving their parents.
Grazzini-Rucki was found not guilty on two additional counts.
David Rucki, the girls’ father, was in the courtroom when the verdicts were announced. Grazzini-Rucki showed no emotion as each of the verdicts were read in the courtroom. Two supporters of Grazzini-Rucki were in the courtroom when the verdicts were announced, Michael Rhedin and Caroline Rice. Neither of them showed emotion when the verdicts were announced.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom was also in the courtroom when the verdicts against Grazzini-Rucki were announced.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Dakota County Attorney Kathyrn Keena. Citing concerns about Grazzini-Rucki being a flight risk, Keena asked for Grazzini-Rucki to be held in custody until her sentencing hearing on September 21, 2016.
Grazzini-Rucki was immediately taken into custody and will be required to post bail of $100,000 to be released without probationary conditions, or $50,000 to be released with probationary conditions.
Judge Asphaug also ordered Grazzini-Rucki to undergo a psychological examination as part of a pre-sentencing investigation.
The jury began their deliberation yesterday afternoon, but decided to end their deliberations at 4:30 PM. The jury resumed their deliberations around 8:30 AM this morning and the verdicts were announced less than two hours later at 10:20 AM.
David Rucki was awarded full custody of all five of his children in November 2013, while two of his daughters remained missing. On November 18, 2015 – 944 days after they disappeared – the girls were found living on a ranch in northern Minnesota by law enforcement, headed by the Lakeville Police Department. Rucki was reunited with his daughters days after they were found and they live with him at the family’s home in Lakeville.
Three additional people have been criminally charged with felonies related to the disappearance of the girls: Dede (Deirdre) Evavold, Douglas Dahlen and his wife, Gina Dahlen. Evavold’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin in September. A trial date has not been set for the Dahlens.
The Dahlens and Evavold were granted “use immunity” to testify against Grazzini-Rucki, over the objections of the attorneys for the Dahlens. Evavold represented herself in the criminal proceedings and she also objected to having to testify against Grazzini-Rucki. Only Gina Dahlen was called to actually testify in the criminal trial.
I’ll have additional analysis on today’s verdict later today, so please check back to Missing in Minnesota.
UPDATE: Sandra Grazzini-Rucki posted bail earlier this afternoon and was released from jail. Her sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 21, 2016.