Judge Schedules December Hearing To Discuss McCullough's Request For Innocence

Oct 20, 2016

Jack McCullough will not receive a certificate of innocence today in the case of the 1957 death of a Sycamore girl.

The 76-year-old Seattle-area resident was released on his own recognizance from the Pontiac Correctional Center on April 15 when his conviction in the murder of Maria Ridulph was vacated.

Attorneys with The Exoneration Project, a legal clinic based at the University of Chicago, filed papers asking for a Certificate of Innocence for McCullough. A hearing on that request was held today at the DeKalb County Courthouse in Sycamore before DeKalb County Circuit Judge William Brady -- the man who ruled that McCullough's conviction was not valid.

Jack McCullough
Credit Casey Porter

Brady said at that time that, while he would not declare McCullough guilty, he also would not declare him not guilty. As a result, McCullough still could face re-arrest on the charge and face a new trial on the murder charge, if a prosecutor should decide to pursue that course.

McCullough's release came as the result of a report by DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack, who reviewed all the evidence in the case -- including some that had been excluded from the original September 2012 trial -- and came to the conclusion that McCullough simply could not have committed the crime.

Russell Ainsworth, of the Innocence Project, told the court that McCullough -- who spent roughly five years in custody since his arrest -- wants to remove the "stain of his conviction."

Brady spent some time reviewing documents presented in favor of the certificate of innocence before speaking. He asked whether this action would bar further prosecution of McCullough in the case.

After some discussion with Brady over what evidence might be admitted in any future prosecution, Ainsworth asked for a future hearing date so he can bring in a psychologist  as an expert witness.

Judge Brady scheduled a hearing for Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Sycamore.

The Ridulph family was not happy that the man they had seen convicted of the murder was being set free. Her brother, Charles Ridulph, filed a motion in Brady's court asking that  a special prosecutor be appointed to review the case and decide whether McCullough should be retried. That request was denied this summer.