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Crime & Courts

Charles Ridulph: Schmack promised to drop charges against McCullough

Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com                                                      
Charles Ridulph (center), Maria Ridulph's brother, takes a petition signed by hundreds of citizens of DeKalb County from Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy (right), a family friend, requesting a special prosecutor at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore on April 22.
Danielle Guerra - dguerra@shawmedia.com Charles Ridulph (center), Maria Ridulph's brother, takes a petition signed by hundreds of citizens of DeKalb County from Sycamore Mayor Ken Mundy (right), a family friend, requesting a special prosecutor at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore on April 22.

SYCAMORE – The brother of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl murdered in 1957 has added to his request to have a special prosecutor appointed in the recently dismissed murder case against Jack McCullough.

In a filing in DeKalb County Court this week, Charles Ridulph claims DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack made a promise during his 2012 campaign to drop murder charges against McCullough, and this constitutes a conflict of interest.

McCullough was convicted of Maria Ridulph’s murder in 2012, and the case was upheld on appeal. Judge William Brady agreed with DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack’s request to dismiss murder charges against McCullough, 76, last month.

“The only just solution would be the appointment of a special prosecutor to review Mr. Schmack’s findings to determine whether a new trial should be held,” Ridulph’s attorney, Bruce Brandwein, wrote in a motion filed this week.

Chicago attorney Gabriel Fuentes, who represented McCullough for free in his bid to get out of prison, declined to comment Thursday on the request.

Schmack said his office is preparing a response, which must be filed before June 3. While he declined further comment on the matter, Schmack previously has denied his actions in the case were politically motivated.

In the amended motion for a special prosecutor, Brandwein claims his argument would be supported by testimony from Charles Ridulph and former DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney Julie Trevarthen.

During McCullough’s bench trial in the 2012 election year, Trevarthen “heard Mr. Schmack state that if elected as state’s attorney he would dismiss the murder charges,” according to the motion. She also would testify that Schmack posted on Facebook “indicating that Mr. McCullough was innocent and this prosecution was politically motivated,” according to court documents.

Trevarthen worked under then-State’s Attorney Clay Campbell. Schmack defeated Campbell in the November 2012 election and brought in his own team of prosecutors when he took office. Trevarthen and Victor Escarcida didn’t stay on. Both had prosecuted the McCullough case.

“The then-candidate for state’s attorney had made up his mind that Mr. McCullough was innocent without being privileged to the state’s evidence and after being elected followed through on his promise to drop charges against Mr. McCullough,” Brandwein wrote in the motion. “This predisposed mindset of Mr. Schmack has created a conflict of interest between his duty as state’s attorney and his campaign promise not to go forward with this case.”

Brandwein said this puts the public’s trust in the criminal justice system in question and requires the appointment of a special prosecutor.
The case is next up in court June 23.

McCullough, who returned to Seattle after his case was dismissed last month, is technically no longer involved in the case.

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