Man seeks to have his conviction in 1957 killing reversed

AP News
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Posted: Oct 27, 2015 2:45 PM
Man seeks to have his conviction in 1957 killing reversed

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) — A 75-year-old man serving a life sentence in the death of a northern Illinois girl in 1957 is again trying to appeal his conviction.

Jack D. McCullough was convicted in 2012 of killing 7-year-old Maria Ridulph of Sycamore. An appellate court upheld his murder conviction in February.

A DeKalb County judge dismissed McCullough's handwritten request for post-conviction relief last month, calling it "frivolous and without merit," according to court documents. Public defender Tom McCulloch plans Wednesday to ask for a hearing on a motion he filed asking the judge to reconsider his decision on McCullough's request, The DeKalb) Daily Chronicle (http://bit.ly/1Wgw90B ) reported.

McCullough has maintained his innocence and has claimed phone records, FBI reports and comments from military recruiters show he was in the Rockford area when the girl was abducted. He claims new evidence could prove he's innocent and would cast doubt on two witness' testimonies at his trial.

Another point of contention involves Jan Swafford, who was dating McCullough in 1957. Police renewed their focus on McCullough after she found an unused train ticket behind a framed photo of the two of them, contradicting his alibi.

Swafford said McCullough told her to put the train ticket in the frame. She said prosecutors subpoenaed her, but she never testified. She isn't positive, she said, but she believes she saw McCullough the night of the girl's disappearance because she remembers he was excited about just passing his Air Force test.

McCullough claims prosecutors didn't want her to testify after giving information that wasn't consistent with the state's theory and that she was kept from access to his defense counsel.

Other questions raised by McCullough included the use of jailhouse informants and whether prosecutors didn't turn over evidence at trial that could have helped the defense.

McCulloch, who represented McCullough at trial, is helping him without being appointed by a judge.

"It was the right thing to do," McCulloch said.

DeKalb County State's Attorney Richard Schmack said his office is considering whether to respond to McCullough's request.

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, http://www.daily-chronicle.com