A Dakota County judge has denied a Lakeville mother’s choice of prison time over probation for hiding her two teen daughters from their father.
On Monday, Judge Karen Asphaug did not allow Sandra Grazzini-Rucki to serve up to eight months in prison. Instead, Grazzini-Rucki will serve the previously sentenced six years of probation and annual stints of 15 days in jail until 2022, to be served on the anniversary that her daughters were found.
Monday’s court decision to deny Grazzini-Rucki’s prison time came after an unusual twist where she chose to execute a prison sentence in lieu of the probation and jail time.
Stephen Grigsby, one of Grazzini-Rucki’s attorneys, called the judge’s actions Monday “legally questionable.”
“This was really an irrational act by the court,” Grigsby said. “I have said that [Grazzini-Rucki] has no intentions to comply with probation.”
Grigsby said the prosecutor also agreed that if his client prefers jail time, then the defendant should be allowed to execute the sentence.
Before Asphaug sentenced Grazzini-Rucki in September, the girl’s father, David Rucki, begged the judge to give her “the highest sentence permitted.”
“Sandy no longer understands what it means to be a parent, and therefore I don’t think she understands what she’s taken from me, or more importantly, my children,” Rucki said last month.
After the sentencing, Asphaug said she was “deeply affected” by Rucki’s statement. “He described the defendant’s actions as annihilation of a family,” Asphaug said. “Truer words have never been spoken.”
Grigsby said his client chose prison to get the sentence over with rather than stretch it out over six years.
Grazzini-Rucki also will have to pay $10,000 in restitution and two fines of $944 — a dollar for each day that each of her daughters were missing.
Days after the girls ran away in April 2013 in the midst of a tumultuous divorce between their parents, Grazzini-Rucki and her friend Dede Evavold drove them to a horse ranch near Herman, Minn.
The ranch was run by Doug and Gina Dahlen, who were sympathetic to Grazzini-Rucki’s claims that the family court system failed her children.
Evavold was found guilty of six counts of felony deprivation of custodial/parental rights. She is being held without bail pending her sentencing on Nov. 10.
The Dahlens face felony charges of deprivation of parental rights for allegedly helping to hide the girls.
Staff writer Brandon Stahl contributed to this report.