Trials & Litigation

Man convicted in 1957 child-slaying is innocent, top prosecutor says; 3 new lawyers are now on case

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Initially rejecting an unusual request by a suburban Chicago prosecutor, an Illinois judge has declined to release a man who was convicted of a 1957 child-murder decades after the crime was committed.

However, Judge William Brady appointed new counsel on Wednesday to represent Jack McCullough in post-conviction matters because of the conflict created by DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack’s contention that McCullough is innocent of Maria Ridulph’s murder. McCullough’s was convicted in 2012.

And, later the same day, two private attorneys entered an appearance in the case. They are partners Gabriel Fuentes and Shaun Van Horn of Jenner & Block, according to Shaw Media and WNIU. An earlier Shaw Media story provides more details.

McCullough, now 76, was arrested in 2011 and convicted and sentenced to life the next year, after his half-sister told authorities that her mother had made a deathbed confession implicating him in the slaying of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. But Schmack says McCullough, who was convicted when a predecessor was at the helm of the state’s attorney’s office, could not have committed the crime because evidence shows he was elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) explained in a lengthy article published last week.

“I truly wish that this crime had really been solved, and her true killer were incarcerated for life,” Schmack said last week in a written statement. “When I began this lengthy review, I had expected to find some reliable evidence that the right man had been convicted. No such evidence could be discovered.”

Related coverage: “As Prosecutors Prepare to Try 1957 Child Murder Case, Suspect Learns of Lost Alibi Evidence”

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