Peoria County State's Attorney Responds to Allegations of Bias in Heidelberg Case

Jul 19, 2016

The Peoria County State’s Attorney is denying claims that his office has a conflict of interest that taints his ability to rule on a 1970 murder case.

Attorneys representing Cleve Heidleberg filed an amended petition earlier this month requesting a special prosecutor.

They allege in the filing that State’s Attorney Jerry Brady is too closely affiliated with the prosecutor that led the conviction against Heidelberg.

Peoria County State's Attorney Jerry Brady
Credit Peoria Public Radio

Brady filed a response Friday that calls those allegations “one-sided pulp fiction.” Brady says in the filing that Heidelberg’s attorneys are trying to put the people of Peoria and the agencies involved in the original case on trial.

Heidelberg’s attorney Andy Hale says the comments fail to address legitimate legal questions about the police investigation and court proceedings.

“Did I not even pique your interest? Did I not even raise enough for you to say, ‘okay, maybe you’re right.’ What if I’m right? What if I am right? This guy has been languishing in prison, for almost half a century,” Hale said.   

Brady declined to comment for this story, citing the pending case. Brady also says in the filed response that no new or credible evidence exists that would warrant reopening the case.

Heidelberg’s attorneys argue the investigation and trial were flawed because a convict with ties to the Black Panther Party confessed to the murder. But that testimony wasn’t included in the court proceedings.

“Race played a substantial role in this case, in terms of the investigation. They were looking for a black man and the first one they found that seemed to be at all related to the case was guilty as far as they were concerned,” Don Jackson, Peoria NAACP President, said. 

73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg, who’s black, is still in prison for the murder of a white sheriff’s deputy in 1970.  A hearing date is set for July 28th.