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Sycamore man says too much time passed between his 2011 arrest for girl’s murder and her 1957 death

Jack Daniel McCullough

Jack Daniel McCullough

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Updated: January 2, 2013 6:12AM

The former Sycamore man found guilty this year of murdering a 7-year-old girl in 1957 wants his conviction tossed out — arguing too much time had passed between the killing and his 2011 arrest.

But if Jack McCullough’s longshot legal request fails, the 73-year-old former cop faces another timely issue: which law should govern his sentencing.

If McCullough chooses to be sentenced under laws in effect in 1957 when Maria Ridulph was killed, he possibly could be paroled in less than 11 years.

Under that sentencing law, though, he also could receive a life sentence.

If he chooses current sentencing laws, there’s no life term available, but McCullough then faces at least 20 years behind bars.

“He hasn’t decided yet,” said his attorney, DeKalb County Acting Public Defender Thomas McCulloch.

State’s Attorney Clay Campbell said he would seek a maximum sentence, regardless of which sentencing guidelines McCullough chooses.

But Campbell lost his election bid in November and won’t be in office Dec. 10 when McCullough is sentenced by Judge James Hallock.

His successor, Richard Schmack, who will be sworn in on Monday, declined to comment on the case or the sentence he will recommend.

McCullough first though will argue his September convictions for murder, kidnapping and infant abduction should be dismissed.

While there is no statute of limitations on murder, he contended in a new legal filing that the 54-year gap between Ridulph’s death and his arrest violated his constitutional rights to a fair trial.

His trial and conviction marked one of the oldest murder prosecutions ever to happen in the United States, authorities have said.

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