SYCAMORE – The trial of a man accused of raping a teenager 50 years ago is scheduled to start Monday with jury selection.
During a brief hearing Thursday afternoon at the DeKalb County Courthouse, the prosecutors and defense attorney trying the case of Jack D. McCullough told Judge Kurt Klein they are ready to proceed with the trial.
“Both sides ready?” Klein asked, to which prosecutors Victor Escarcida and Julie Trevarthen with the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office and McCullough’s attorney, public defender Regina Harris, replied yes.
McCullough, 72, of Seattle, is charged with one count of rape and four counts of indecent liberties with a child. He also faces separate charges in the 1957 kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Sycamore girl Maria Ridulph, but those charges are not part of the trial starting Monday.
During Thursday’s hearing, Escarcida provided Harris with two reports that included results of DNA analysis done by the Illinois State Police Lab. Harris said those reports were for the Ridulph case.
After the hearing, Trevarthen said it was hard to predict how long the trial would go but that it would not take long.
Harris and Trevarthen said there is no physical evidence in the rape case.
Trevarthen said the accuser in the case is expected to testify, as is the victim of a 1982 case in Washington state when McCullough was charged with statutory rape.
He eventually pleaded guilty to an unlawful communication charge.
Jury selection will be performed in individual meetings in the judge’s chambers with attorneys.
Harris said if selection was done in the courtroom, it could lead to someone previously not aware of aspects of the case learning about it from another potential juror.
Given the amount of media attention the case has received, Harris said “it is going to be hard” to pick jurors, but she has successfully picked jurors in cases that were higher profile than this one.
A larger-than-normal pool of potential jurors is being brought in, she said. In past cases, she said she’s often found potential jurors either know few or no details about cases because they have not read or seen media reports. And many jurors want to hear all of the information about a case, not just what is reported in media.
Harris said it might take longer to select a jury than to try the case.
The state is expected to call five witnesses, and Harris said she has three or four. She said she expects several witnesses to have testimony that is not lengthy.
When asked if McCullough would testify in his defense, Harris said, “I can’t answer that yet.”
DeKalb County Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert will hear the trial.
Thursday’s hearing was in Klein’s courtroom because Stuckert was not available. McCullough appeared at the hearing in an orange jumpsuit with his hands shackled in front of him.
Indictments in the rape case accuse McCullough of raping and sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in Sycamore on one occasion between November 1961 and November 1962.
The state’s attorney’s office has argued the statute of limitations was put on hold because McCullough was not a resident of the state from Dec. 11, 1957-Nov. 1, 1961; Nov. 30, 1962-May 1, 1969; and Oct. 31, 1970-present.
McCullough was arrested July 1 in Seattle and indicted Aug. 19 by a grand jury on charges of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant in the Ridulph case.
He has pleaded not guilty, and that trial has not been scheduled.
Ridulph was abducted from her Sycamore neighborhood Dec. 3, 1957. Her remains were found nearly five months later in rural Jo Daviess County.
McCullough is being held on bond of more than $3 million in the DeKalb County Jail.