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New DeKalb County State's Attorney Needs More Time To Review Files In Certificate Of Innocence Case

Susan Stephens

A DeKalb County judge has set dates for hearings in two cases involving Jack McCullough, the Seattle resident who was convicted of the 1957 kidnapping and murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore. That conviction was vacated after a review last year showed he could not have committed the crime. 

McCullough’s request for a "certificate of innocence" will be heard in a DeKalb county courtroom April 6. Judge William Brady set the date at a hearing Monday. The hearing was delayed because DeKalb County’s new State’s Attorney, Rick Amato, needed more time to review the massive files on the case.

“I’ve been working on this extensively through my first 7 or 8 weeks," Amato told reporters outside the courtroom. "It’s very important to me.  I know how important it is to our community, and I want to make sure I’m doing the best job possible for it.”

A certificate of innocence would make McCullough eligible to collect damages from the state. A status hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 13.

Meanwhile, the search continues for a special prosecutor to take over an investigation related to the McCullough case. Former DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack requested an investigation into allegations of perjury by a Seattle police detective.

Amato says the perjury complaint involves more than the Seattle detective. “I read it as alleging misconduct, possibly by employees that were presently and past in the state’s attorney’s office,” Amato said, “That includes several people that are currently there, and also one that is on the bench. So I believe there is a true conflict.”

The Illinois Attorney General’s office and prosecutors from other counties have declined to take on the case. An appellate judge could be named as special prosecutor this Friday.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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