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Crime & Courts

DeKalb County residents petition for special prosecutor in McCullough case

SYCAMORE – More than 200 DeKalb County residents have signed a petition requesting DeKalb County Judge William Brady assign a special prosecutor to retry Jack McCullough for the 1957 murder of 7-year-old Maria Ridulph.

Bruce Brandwein, the attorney representing the victim's brother, Charles Ridulph, filed today an amended motion requesting another prosecutor be allowed to review the case. Attached to the motion were more than 200 signatures in support of the request, and a letter from Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy accusing DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack of being a "rogue" prosecutor exhibiting a "strong appearance of impropriety."

"Absent a special prosecutor, the community faith in the integrity of the court is diminished," Mundy wrote.

His affiliation with the case is only as a private citizen, and has no association with his duties as mayor, Mundy said.

"We grew up together. We were lifelong friends. I’m very close to the [Ridulph] family," he said. "We’re in the same church together. We went to school together in Sycamore. I’ve known him my whole life."

Without the help of an attorney, Ridulph on March 28 submitted a motion for a special prosecutor, but later realized he filed the request citing the wrong statute. Chicago lawyer Bruce Brandwein submitted an amended request at 11:19 a.m. today, claiming phone records that might have corroborated an alibi for McCullough are not new evidence, and were available to him during the trial.

"Mr. Ridulph has moved for the appointment of a special prosecutor to review the DeKalb County State's Attorney's decision not to prosecute Mr. McCullough not out of vengeance, but to restore confidence in the criminal justice system," Brandwein wrote in the petition.

Mundy's is the first of more than 200 signatures on a petition for a special prosecutor, which was filed with Brandwein's motion Thursday in DeKalb County Court.

"Mr. Ridulph has attached as Exhibit A letters and petitions from citizens of DeKalb County indicating that not to appoint a special prosecutor would severely impair the public's trust in the criminal justice system," Brandwein wrote. "Mr. Ridulph expects further signatures on similar petitions, which he will present in open court."

The judge vacated McCullough's conviction Friday, and granted his request for a new trial. Schmack, however, has filed a request to dismiss all charges against McCullough.

Brady is expected to rule on both requests tomorrow.

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