Thursday, July 14, 2016

Jack McCullough: Illinois; Bulletin: August hearing scheduled in Maria Ridulph killing case to determine if a prosecutor made statements that compromised his objectivity in the case of a 7-year-old girl’s killing in 1957.

"A DeKalb judge has scheduled a hearing for next month to determine if a prosecutor made statements that compromised his objectivity in the case of a 7-year-old girl’s killing in 1957. The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reports Judge William Brady on Tuesday set a hearing for Aug. 5 in connection with the slaying of Maria Ridulph. Jack McCullough was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the girl’s death. But DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack said a review found flaws and determined McCullough’s alibi was solid, resulting in his conviction being overturned and his release. Maria Ridulph’s brother, Charles Ridulph, claims Schmack promised during the 2012 campaign that he would drop murder charges against McCullough. Schmack has said he acted only within the obligation of his role as prosecutor.

See comprehensive Wikipedia entry:"Maria Elizabeth Ridulph (March 12, 1950 – c. December 1957) was an American girl who disappeared on December 3, 1957 from a street corner in her neighborhood in Sycamore, Illinois when she was seven years old.[1] She was last seen by one of her childhood friends in the company of an unknown man who appeared to be in his early twenties and called himself "Johnny". Nearly five months later, her remains were found in a wooded area near Woodbine, Illinois, approximately 100 miles from her home.[1][2] The case, well known throughout the Chicagoland area, was widely reported as the oldest cold case murder in the United States to be solved when Jack McCullough, who under his former name John Tessier had been a neighbor of the Ridulph family, was convicted for her murder in September 2012.[1][3][4] However, in March 2016, the DeKalb County State's Attorney announced that a post-conviction review of all available evidence showed that McCullough could not have been present at the place and time of Maria Ridulph's likely abduction.[5][6] McCullough was released from prison on April 15, 2016 and the charges against him were dismissed on April 22, 2016..........In 2015, McCullough, acting pro se, filed a petition for post-conviction relief asking that his murder conviction be set aside. After McCullough's petition was initially dismissed by the court as "frivolous and without merit", the public defender who had originally represented McCullough at trial — and who had continued to investigate the case while staying in touch with McCullough, despite the fact that he was no longer appointed to defend McCullough — asked the court to reconsider the dismissal.[44] McCullough filed a successive motion that could not be denied without a hearing from the State Attorney's Office.[45] In response to the motions, DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack, who had replaced Clay Campbell in that position, conducted an extensive review of the evidence, which led Schmack to conclude that McCullough could not have committed the crime and was actually innocent. According to Schmack, evidence was kept out of the trial that clearly established McCullough's whereabouts on the evening of Maria Ridulph's abduction and supported his alibi.[46] In particular, phone records from Illinois Bell showed that McCullough made a collect call to his mother that evening from a pay phone in downtown Rockford rather than from Sycamore as alleged at his trial. Given the timing of the telephone call, the approximately 40-mile distance between Sycamore and Rockford, and icy road conditions, Schmack concluded that McCullough could not possibly have been in Sycamore at the time of Maria Ridulph's disappearance.[6][12] Following a March 2016 court hearing,[47] on April 15, 2016 Judge William P. Brady of the Illinois Circuit Court vacated McCullough's original conviction and sentence and ordered a new trial. McCullough, who remained charged with the crime, was released on bond that day pending the new trial.[7][48] A week later, Judge Brady dismissed the charges against McCullough; however, the dismissal of the murder charge was without prejudice, meaning that McCullough could be tried again for the murder of Maria Ridulph should a prosecutor wish to do so. Brady postponed ruling on a request by Maria's brother Charles Ridulph, backed by the signatures of hundreds of Sycamore citizens including the city's mayor, that a special prosecutor be appointed to replace Schmack on McCullough's case.[5]"