CHICAGO (CBS) — A DeKalb County judge has ordered a new trial for a 76-year-old man convicted of killing 7-year-old Maria Ridulph in 1957, after prosecutors said new evidence shows Jack McCullough was wrongly convicted.
Judge William P. Brady also ordered McCullough’s release on bond, pending a new trial.
DeKalb County State’s Attorney Richard Schmack has said newly obtained phone records show he could not possibly have abducted and killed Maria in Sycamore in 1957.
Defense attorneys and Schmack argued McCullough should be released, and Brady agreed, vacating McCullough’s conviction, ordering a new trial, and allowing McCullough to go free on bond.
“This court does believe the defendant has met his burden, and it will grant the request for a new trial,” Brady said.
Schmack has said he does not plan to retry McCullough, but Brady said a special prosecutor could be appointed to review the case. Maria’s older brother, Charles, has asked Brady to appoint a special prosecutor to prosecute McCullough, and he has hired an attorney to help him with that request. Brady will consider that request on April 22, but indicated a special prosecutor would have the discretion to decide what to do with the case after reviewing all the evidence.
McCullough released a statement through attorney Gabe Fuentes praising the judge’s handling of the case.
“Mr. McCullough also appreciates the courageous and independent actions of the prosecutor in this case, Mr. Richard Schmack, for having acknowledged the errors that were the basis for the Court’s decision today,” the statement said.