SYCAMORE – Jack McCullough's defense team took a hit Tuesday after a judge's ruling prohibited them from using FBI records as evidence in his murder trial.
Kane County Associate Judge James Hallock also said he would allow prosecutors to use statements made by McCullough during a police interrogation after his arrest in July 2011 in the 1957 kidnapping and killing of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore. Ridulph disappeared from her Sycamore neighborhood on Dec. 3, 1957. Her remains were found five months later in rural Jo Daviess County.
Robert Carlson, a defense attorney for McCullough, argued FBI records that indicated McCullough was in Chicago and Rockford at the time of Ridulph's disappearance should be permitted, as they could be the only accurate account of events that occurred 55 years ago, with witnesses having died or forgotten details.
McCullough, 72, of Seattle, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, kidnapping and abduction of an infant. He is being held at DeKalb County Jail on $3 million bond.
Carlson said the statements in the FBI documents were made when memories were fresh, and not allowing those reports as evidence would reward the state for bringing charges against McCullough more than 50 years later.
"These are the only remaining records 55 years later," Carlson said.
Prosecutor Julie Trevarthen argued the reports could not be substantive evidence because they were "hearsay" with no first-hand observations from police officers. The report included statements made by military recruiting officers who said they met McCullough in Rockford.
Hallock agreed the reports were not admissable.
Carlson also unsuccessfully argued statements made by McCullough in a police interrogation video should not be allowed because McCullough had requested a lawyer and was not provided one.
Trevarthen countered that McCullough never made his desire for a lawyer clear in the video until more than six and a half hours into the interview. She said statements such as "we're done," "I'm done talking to you," "tell them to arrest me or let me go" and "I'm lawyering up," were ambiguous, especially because McCullough continued to talk on his own.
She said McCullough, as a former police officer, should have known how to clearly request a lawyer.
Carlson argued the statement "we're done" should have been considered a clear indication from a 72-year-old man who was pulled from a retirement home by police and taken to the station.
Hallock agreed with prosecutors and said it was not until six hours and 37 minutes into the video that McCullough made a clear request when he said "now that I know you think I'm involved, I really do want a lawyer." Hallock said any comments McCullough made after that point would not be allowed as evidence.
Hallock said motions could still be filed, but both the prosecution and defense did not believe they would file any motions ahead of the bench trial that will begin on Monday.
The trial will be held in courtroom 300.