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Crime & Courts

Special prosecutor assigned to investigate misconduct in Jack McCullough case

SYCAMORE – A lawyer with the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s office in Springfield will investigate allegations of police perjury and other possible wrongdoing in the prosecution of Jack McCullough.

Brian Towne will serve as the special prosecutor in the case. Towne is part of the special prosecution unit of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office. The unit consists of trial attorneys who assist in prosecuting criminal cases, according to the office’s website.

Towne previously served as the LaSalle County state’s attorney, according to his biography on the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s office website.

Former DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack asked a DeKalb County judge in August to have a special prosecutor investigate whether a Seattle police detective committed perjury, as well as other possible misconduct in the prosecution of McCullough.

Towne was appointed Friday after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and prosecutors from nine Illinois counties declined to look into the allegations, which arose last year after McCullough’s conviction was vacated in the 1957 murder of Maria Ridulph, 7, of Sycamore.

At the time he filed the motion, Schmack said video evidence contradicted statements made by both DeKalb County prosecutors and Seattle police Detective Irene Lau in pretrial proceedings and McCullough’s September 2012 trial.

McCullough was freed last April, his conviction vacated and the charges against him dismissed after Schmack determined that phone records and FBI documents from 1957 and 1958 proved McCullough was in Rockford and could not have been in Sycamore on Dec. 3, 1957, at the time Ridulph was abducted from the corner of Archie Place and Center Cross Street near her home.

McCullough also is seeking a certificate of innocence from a judge. A hearing on that matter is set for April.

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