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DeKalb County State's Attorney Wants Request For Special Prosecutor Thrown Out

Danielle Guerra
Daily Chronicle

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack is once again asking a judge to dismiss a request for a special prosecutor to take over a high-profile 1957 murder case.

Richard Schmack reviewed the evidence from the lawyer for Maria Ridulph’s family. They say a special prosecutor is necessary, because Schmack showed he was biased in favor of Jack McCullough -- who was found guilty of the decades-old murder of the 7-year-old girl in 2012.

McCullough’s conviction was overturned in April and he was released from prison. That’s after Schmack reviewed evidence that was originally not admissible in court.

Schmack says he respects Charles Ridulph’s feelings, but Ridulph shouldn’t be allowed to testify at the hearing next week.

Since Ridulph wasn’t present for Schmack’s alleged comments made on the case years ago, Schmack said it’s impossible for Ridulph to offer relevant testimony. That’s according to court documents.

An attorney for Maria's brother, Charles Ridulph, originally said he could prove a conflict of interest on Schmack’s part, and that Schmack said he would release McCullough if he was elected because he thought McCullough was innocent.

“They only feel that they can show that, at some time or another, I made some statement about the FBI having cleared him in 1957,” Schmack said. “Of course, he was cleared in 1957, but the question was not was he cleared because, you know, was the FBI right in clearing him. And obviously those are two different things.”

The main witness who could attest to Schmack saying McCullough was innocent – former DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Trevarthen – changed her testimony. Schmack says that’s why he renewed the motion to dismiss the special prosecutor request.

“Because it’s my opinion that what they’re now saying she would testify to significantly changes what they've plead, and I don’t believe that it states an appropriate cause of action to say that I have any sort of a conflict,” Schmack said.

Tuesday’s hearing will no longer be evidentiary, since Trevarthen is no longer able to appear in court. That’s according to court documents.

Judge William Brady will rule next week on Schmack’s latest requests.

WNIJ's Katie Finlon and Susan Stephens prepared this report.

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