Cleve Heidelberg

Peoria Public Radio

Ten months after his release from prison, Cleve Heidelberg is dead. The 75-year old was in failing health at the time of his release last spring. He was found in an apartment in the 4200 block of Knollridge Rd. with no external trauma or sign of injury according to Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood.


Heidelberg was released after serving more than 47-years in prison. He was convicted of murdering Peoria County Sheriff Sgt. Raymond Espinoza in 1970. His conviction was vacated last April.


Appeals Court Sends Heidelberg's Case Back to Peoria

Dec 1, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The half a century old murder case that convicted a black man of killing a sheriff’s deputy has been sent back to Peoria County.

Attorney General's Office Withdraws from Heidelberg Case

Jul 21, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The latest hearing for Cleve Heidelberg was a strike out for his defense attorneys.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

74-year-old Cleve Heidelberg appeared in a Peoria County courtroom today, following his attorney's motion requesting a speedy trial.

Fred Zwicky / Peoria Journal Star

Attorneys representing Cleve Heidelberg are pushing back against a request by the Illinois Attorney General’s office to end a review of his case.

Cleve Heidelberg Released After 47 Years

May 22, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

When Cleve Heidelberg woke up in his jail cell Monday morning, he didn’t know he’d be stepping outside hours later in civilian clothing. In fact, Heidelberg was notified just minutes before that he’d be released, for the first time in 47 years.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Cleve Heidelberg could just be days away from stepping outside Peoria County Jail, for the first time since 1970.

Heidelberg's Bond Hearing Still Pending

May 4, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

  The 3rd District Appellate Court has remanded the bond hearing for Cleve Heidelberg back to the Circuit Court.

Peoria County Circuit Judge Al Purham vacated Heidelberg’s murder conviction last month and ordered a new trail. The 74-year-old man was convicted of shooting and killing Peoria County Sheriff’s Sergeant Raymond Espinoza at the Bellevue Drive-in Theatre in 1970. Heidelberg has been incarcerated since his arrest. New evidence introduced before the circuit court raises the question of reasonable doubt.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

An appellate court judge will have to decide whether Cleve Heidelberg can be released on bond. That was the final ruling of Peoria County Judge Al Purham Fri., siding with arguments made by the State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Twenty minutes was all it took for a Peoria County Judge to vacate a man’s 47-year-old murder conviction.

Exonerated Ex-Inmate Speaks Up for Heidelberg

Apr 19, 2017
Seth Perlman / AP Photo

A former inmate who was wrongfully convicted of murder says he believes his friend, Cleve Heidelberg, is innocent.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A 74-year-old Peoria man returns to prison in Galesburg this evening, but he could be freed later this spring if a judge believes new evidence proves his innocence.

Cleve Heidelberg Gets a New Day In Court

Feb 28, 2017
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Attorneys for Cleve Heidelberg are celebrating the seven hours of testimony yesterday as “an accomplishment.” Four separate witnesses were called to testify Tues. in Judge Albert Purham’s courtroom in the Peoria County Building.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A murder case involving the killing of a Peoria County Sheriff's sergeant in 1970 will get a modern-day reconsideration this week. 74-year-old Cleve Heidelberg’s sentence will be reexamined Tues. in a hearing that will consider new evidence and testimony.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Echoes of 1970 replayed in a Peoria County courtroom Wed.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

Attorneys representing 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg are seeking to postpone a third stage hearing, scheduled for Wed.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A Peoria man’s sixth amendment rights were violated 46 years ago, in a case that landed him in prison for the rest of his life.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg is spending his Christmas in prison, for the 46th straight year. Heidelberg’s 1970 murder conviction of a Peoria Deputy is still under review. But a hearing scheduled for the end of December could mean a shot at a new trial -- even freedom -- in the New Year.

Heidelberg Murder Conviction Review Continues

Oct 5, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

The revisit of a 46-year old Peoria murder case continues to move forward in the county courthouse. The hearing for Cleve Heidelberg, who’s convicted of killing a sheriff’s deputy in 1970 started with his apology  to the court for what he called his "boisterous actions" during the previous hearing. 

After the Latest Hearing: What's Next for Heidelberg?

Oct 4, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A Peoria man convicted in 1970 for the murder of a sheriff’s deputy continues the fight to vacate his conviction. Peoria Public Radio’s Cass Herrington reports on 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg’s legal efforts to gain freedom:

Heidelberg’s legal team is pursuing two pathways to vacate the 46-year-old murder conviction.

Heidelberg Hearing Takes a Turn

Sep 22, 2016
Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A startling turn of events stirred an emotional scene in what was expected to be a pretty mundane hearing in Peoria County Court Thurs. Peoria Public Radio’s Cass Herrington reports on 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg’s efforts to be exonerated after nearly half a century in prison.

Peoria 10th Circuit Court Judge Al Purham stands by his original ruling: The 1970 case involving Cleve Heidelberg must be reinvestigated by the Illinois Attorney General.

"I believe in transparency," Purham said.

That was his final statement in the courtroom Thurs., after hearing arguments from the Peoria County State’s Attorney’s office in defense of his decision not to reopen Heidelberg’s case.

At issue was State’s Attorney Jerry Brady’s personal ties to the trial's lead prosecutor, who Brady contacted before determining not to reopen the case earlier this year.

The Peoria County State’s Attorney is requesting a judge reconsider his decision to appoint a special prosecutor to a 46-year-old murder murder case.

State’s Attorney Jerry Brady filed a motion Tues. defending his reason for calling his friend and colleague, Ron Hamm, who was the prosecutor in the trial that led to the lifelong prison sentence of Cleve Heidelberg.

Brady says in the filing he called prosecutor Ron Hamm on Apr. 22 with the intent of releasing Hamm’s number to the news media.

David Zalaznik / Peoria Journal Star

A Peoria County judge ruled Thurs. a special prosecutor should be named in a 46-year-old murder case. Judge Al Purham told the courtroom he was “troubled” and “not satisfied” by the initial investigation that led to the conviction of 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg in 1970.

Heidelberg’s attorney Andy Hale says the judge’s decision is promising going forward.

Peoria Public Radio

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.

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.  

Illinois Department of Corrections

This week, 73-year-old Cleve Heidelberg will have spent exactly 46 years in prison.

Heidelberg, a black man, was convicted of murdering a Peoria County Sheriff’s sergeant in 1970. Since that time, Heidelberg has filed numerous petitions arguing his innocence.

Cleve Heidelberg says the last 46 years of his life have been spent in “the grave.”

Heidelberg's Case Reassigned

May 19, 2016
Illinois Department of Corrections

A 1970 murder case has been reassigned to a different presiding judge for review.

In a filing Wed., Peoria County Chief Judge Stephen Kouri ordered that Cleve Heidelberg’s case be assigned to Judge Al Purham.

The motion for substitution of judge is a motion that parties can file asking that a different judge be assigned to the case.

Peoria County Chief Judge Stephen Kouri says substitutions are not unusual in cases like these. 

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.

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.

Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

An unlikely legal team is filing a petition in Peoria Thurs. that seeks to reopen the 1970 murder case of a Peoria County Sheriff’s Sergeant. The petition argues murder convict Cleve Heidelberg, who’s serving a life sentence, is innocent.

But one retired Peoria County Sheriff's lieutenant stands by his conviction the right person is behind bars.

Emanuel Manias says it’s been more than 40 years since the murder, but he still thinks about it often. Sergeant Raymond Espinoza, was his partner, an expert shooter, and his best friend.