Lawyers File Petition Requesting Special Prosecutor for Heidelberg Case

Apr 21, 2016

Don Jackson of Peoria (left) and Andy Hale of Chicago (right) are seeking a special prosecutor in a petition filed to the 10th Circuit Court Thursday.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Two lawyers filed a petition Thursday requesting that a special prosecutor reopen a 1970 murder case involving the slaying of a Peoria Sheriff’s Sergeant.

Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Attorneys Andy Hale of Chicago and Don Jackson of Peoria filed a 98-page petition arguing Cleve Heidelberg was wrongly convicted. They say much of the incriminating evidence was manufactured and important physical evidence never surfaced in the courtroom, like the results of a latent fingerprint test conducted by the FBI.

“When I put all that together, and as a practicing attorney and an officer of the court, justice is supposed to prevail,” Jackson said. “I don’t think justice prevailed in this case.”

That’s Don Jackson, who’s also the president of the Peoria NAACP.

But the prosecutor in the trial, Ron Hamm, is still "100 percent" convinced that Heidelberg is guilty.

“There was never any question in my mind that this was a clean arrest, a clean trial and the identifications were absolutely certain,” Hamm said.

Andy Hale filed a request to the Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady to reopen the case. Brady denied that request in February. Hale and Jackson argue in the petition, Heidelberg’s case requires a special prosecutor, without a conflict of interest.

Cleve Heidelberg is 73 years old and has maintained his innocence throughout custody. He’s filed at least three writs for habeas corpus during his incarceration. All of them have been denied.