Attorneys representing Cleve Heidelberg, who’s in prison for the 1970 murder of a Peoria County Sheriff’s deputy, filed an amended petition for a special prosecutor.
The updated filing alleges the Peoria County State’s Attorney has a conflict of interest that undermines his ability to make a fair decision.
Heidelberg’s attorneys Andy Hale and Don Jackson say Peoria County State’s attorney Jerry Brady should step aside and allow the appointment of a special prosecutor. At is issue is what they’re calling Brady’s “close and personal” relationship to Ron Hamm, chief prosecutor in the case.
Hamm became an assistant state’s attorney in 1968 and led the prosecution that resulted in Heidelberg’s guilty conviction. The amended petition alleges that Hamm was Brady’s mentor and friend.
The petition cites several Journal Star articles that document their professional ties. In a column from 2012, Hamm is quoted praising Brady's support. Campaign fundraising records show that Hamm contributed to Brady’s reelection campaign in 2012.
“This is a very important case, and it’s a very controversial case,” Don Jackson, Heidelberg’s attorney and NAACP chapter president, said. “It seems to me it would take the pressure off his office if another set of eyes looked at this case.”
Jerry Brady declined to comment for this story, citing pending legal matters.
The attorneys' filing also lists six recent cases in Illinois where County State’s Attorneys recused themselves, if anything, to remove the “appearance” of impropriety. Heidelberg’s attorneys say Brady should follow suit.
A hearing is set for July 28. Advocates behind the Justice4Cleve campaign are inviting the public to attend.