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Charges Dropped In Fatal 2008 Hit-And-Run Due To False Confession

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JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) – Charges were dropped Thursday morning against a man who had been accused in a deadly hit-and-run in Joliet in 2008, after it was determined the man who confessed had nothing to do with the crash.

Psychiatrists on both sides of the case have determined David McCarthy gave a false confession when he said he was the one behind the wheel when 20-year-old Melissa Lech was struck and killed as she was walking along McDonough Street in Joliet on Aug. 7, 2008.

“The psychiatrists say he made up his confession, so we can’t move forward with this case,” says Charles Pelkie, spokesman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Thursday’s news only re-doubles the pain for Lech’s long-suffering family.

“Her room in our house is still waiting, waiting for her. I never move nothing for six years,” the victim’s mother, Maria, says.

Melissa Lech, 20, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Aug. 7, 2008. (Family Photo)

Melissa Lech, 20, was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Aug. 7, 2008. (Family Photo)

McCarthy tracked down Lech’s sister in February 2012, and confessed at her kitchen table. He later was charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, and was facing trial later this year.

But McCarthy has a history of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Authorities and psychiatrists have since determined he had nothing to do with the crash that killed Lech. Prosecutors agreed to drop charges against him after learning he has a history of delusional behavior, and obsessing over events that have nothing to do with him.

McCarthy had been in jail for two years, awaiting trial, but was to be released from custody later Thursday.