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Ridulph Allowed To Testify In Special Prosecutor Request In McCullough Case Next Month

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The question of appointing a special prosecutor in the case of the decades-old murder of a Sycamore girl will again be continued in an additional hearing next month. This time, it will include witness testimony.

DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack wanted the special prosecutor request dismissed and Charles Ridulph's testimony limited. Ridulph is the brother of Maria Ridulph, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1957.

On Tuesday, DeKalb County Judge William Brady denied Schmack’s two motions that would have prevented a special prosecutor being assigned to the case. Brady also ruled Ridulph's testimony will not be limited.

Ridulph has claimed that Schmack has a "conflict of interest" in pursuing the case and has asked the court to name a special prosecutor.  Ridulph's attorney Bruce Brandwein says "my client is very, very happy he can tell his side of the story. And whether we win or lose, we will get his story out." Brandwein plans to call two witnesses at the hearing: Charles Ridulph and Julie Trevarthen. She's a former assistant state's attorney for DeKalb County who helped prosecute McCullough under previous state's attorney, Clay Campbell.

All parties return to court Aug. 5. The motion to dismiss will be reconsidered, and the judge will hear from witnesses and rule on whether to allow a special prosecutor.

At that hearing, the State's Attorney for Ogle County may handle cross-examination since DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack will be on the stand.

Background

Seven-year-old Maria Ridulph was abducted from her street and later killed in December 1957, and Jack D. McCullough -- known at the time of the abduction as John Tessier -- was convicted in September 2012 of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

Schmack, in response to McCullough's appeal from prison, conducted an examination of all evidence in the case earlier this spring and reported in March that there was evidence to validate McCullough's alibi that he was in Rockford at the time of the crime. That evidence had been excluded from the original trial.

Brady vacated the conviction, and McCullough was set free. Schmack dropped the charges against McCullough, who returned to his home in the Seattle area.

At that hearing, Ridulph's attorney, Bruce Brandwein, says Schmack made comments on the McCullough case before his election.  This showed impropriety, in his opinion, and may warrant a special prosecutor.  

Schmack argued that if Ridulph's allegations are true, then the conflict of interest would have been known three and a half years ago.

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