Note: This is the appeals from 2014, the current court documents can be found here: They Lied – Motion to Reconsider the Dismissal of Defendant’s Post Conviction Petition
Attached in the Brief and arguement for Plaintiff-Appellee, written by Scott Jacobson, filed on August 1, 2014: State’s McCullough brief
If a person is interested, the response to this brief filed August 12, 2014 can be found here: Mccullough_Appeal_Reply
Below are some snippits, and my comments. Overall, I thought the brief was very weak, it is strong on citation of cases, but weak in arguments.
“At the time of Maria’s abduction, defendant John Tessier was 18 years old. R. 681-85,794-96,939-40; C. 373; PI. Ex. 7. He had been expelled from high school and lived with his parents in Sycamore, two blocks away from Maria’s family’s home. After Maria was taken, defendant joined the military, changed his name to Jack McCullough, and eventually became a police officer in the state of Washington.”
Jack changed his name in 1994, long after his military carrier, and work as a police officer, but sounds better if we mess up the timeline. The core of this case is the timeline of when Jack was in Rockford, and when Maria was taken (both events happening approximately 7pm per the FBI investigation). It is therefore shocking to me that Mr. Scott Jacobson is so sloppy on a timeline as to put Jack changing his 37 years before it happened.
Jack’s expulsion from High School is not relevant to anything, but this explains how later in the brief how Mr. Jacobson explains away the issue of Sue McCullough opening the safe for the police was some how relevant to be used in court. It is nice to note how close he lived to Maria and Kathy Sigman, two girls that NEVER saw him before.
“As the girls played, a man walked up Center Cross Street, approached them, and introduced himself as “Johnny.” R. 800-02, 820-22. Sigman had never seen him before. R. 802. He was slender and wore a multicolored sweater. R. 801, 831. He had big teeth, and his hair had what Sigman described as a “flip” to it. Id. In 2011,”
See page on “Photo Line Up, a closer look” Not sure how we go from missing an eye tooth, to having big teeth, and curly hair to a flip.
“After Maria’s disappearance, Kathy Sigman had near daily contact with the police and the FBI. R. 807-10, 827-28. Sigman estimated that the police showed her photographs and lineups of thousands of potential suspects. Id. Sigman never identified anyone as the man she saw that night. Id.”
Sigman never identified Thomas Rivard on December 22, 1957???? Everyone knows this, page 39-41 of the 9/11/2012 trial transcripts make this obvious, Judge Hallock just did not want to hear about it.
“For example, defendant told Detective Ciesynski that he was in Chicago at the time Maria was kidnapped. R. 1197-99. Defendant also told Detective Steigler that he was either in or between Chicago, Rockford, and Sycamore when the crime occurred; the time line, however, was quite hazy. 1166-69.3 Meanwhile, Kathy Sigman unequivocally stated that defendant was at the intersection of Archie Place and Center Cross Street in Sycamore at around 6:00 p.m. on December 3, 1957. R. 800-06. Defendant’s failure to give a true and consistent account of his whereabouts for the time the crime was committed was evidence of his consciousness of”
The timeline is not “hazy” the FBI has it very well documented, see “The FBI Timeline.” The FBI reports, based on interviews of both families show the girls did not go out to play till after 6, and Tom Braddy sees the girls with no man with them at 6:15, etc.
“Meanwhile, defendant’s mother, Eileen, lied to the FBI and said that defendant was at home that night when he was not.”
She lied based on what? What two women “remember” from 54 years ago?
“In his pretrial notice of intent to pursue an alibi defense, defendant stated that he was in either Chicago or Rockford when Maria was taken. C. 283. Defendant, however, ultimately declined to present an alibi defense at trial.”
Yes, because they were not allowed to. What a stupid statement to make, defense was not allowed to use the FBI document, so they are declining too??? The defense could not even state in court Kathy Chapman positively identified Thomas Rivard on 12/22/1957, when they tried they were shut down by Judge Hallock.
“Katheran, defendant’s half-sister, testified that defendant had such a sweater and that, after Maria was taken, she never saw defendant wear that sweater again. R. 858, 885-88. It would not be unreasonable to believe that defendant destroyed or discarded the sweater because it was evidence of a serious crime, and the destruction of incriminating evidence strongly indicates guilt.”
Maybe because he was in South East Asia fighting a war for the next four years? Katheran did not see Jack for the next four years, so she did not see him wearing shoes either… no shoes, now there is a sign of guilt.
“The same holds true for evidence that defendant joined the military and changed his name after Maria disappeared. See Hommerson, 399 TIL App. 3d at 410 (“Evidence of flight and the use of an assumed name may be used as proof of consciousness of guilt.”).”
So, joining the military before Maria disappears, and changing his name in 1994 shows evidence of flight?
“While Doe’s and Diaz’s accounts were consistent with each other, all three accounts were consistent on the same basic point-that defendant admitted his sole responsibility for Maria’s kidnapping and murder.”
Three different accounts are consistent because they all say Jack killed her?
“Evidence that a murder victim was found unclothed may be consistent with sexual assault.”
Maybe consistent with an alien abduction, how the word “maybe” can be used in a murder case is beyond me. Regardless though, I thought we were dealing with a murder trial, not a rape trial, it is disconcerting that when the appeal court is reviewing a murder trial the State needs to elude to rape when there is no evidence of it.
“Next, defendant told Swaggerty that he would “talk plea bargains” if the authorities had any DNA evidence connecting him to the crime.”
I like how Swaggerty’s testimony is now FACT. I think we need to re-interview Mr. Swaggerty, he seems to be a wealth of information, maybe he can solve a lot more cases for us given that his statements are all factual.
“It is well established, however, that courts usefive factors to evaluate an eyewitness identifications, such as: (1) the witness’s opportunity to view the suspect during the offense; (2) the witness’s degree of attention; (3) the accuracy of any prior descriptions provided; (4) the witness’s level of certainty at the time of the identification procedure; and (5) the length of time between the crime and the identification. People v. Slim, 127 TIL 2d 302, 307-08 (1989) (citing Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 199 (1972)). These five factors, known as the Biggers factors, are considered together and no one factor, such as the length of time, is dispositive. See, e.g., People v. Piatkowski, 225 TIL 2d 551, 570 (2007).”
Well, based on Biggers, looks like #3 is a total failure, see “Photo Line Up, a closer look” Actually #1, and #2 are in question, and upon reviewing the trial transcripts, #4 is questionable too (read the trial transcripts about the time it took her, and what two photos she was torn between.) #5 is just simply a joke, I am not sure any more time could have passed between crime and the identification.
“More importantly though, through all of the lineups and show-ups after Maria’s disappearance, and through all of the intervening years, defendant was the only person Sigman identified as Maria’s kidnapper and her identification of defendant never wavered. Sigman’s level of certainty cuts in favor of the State.”
Thomas Rivard??????? Her level of certainty??? See photo line up page.
“At any rate, any error in admitting evidence of Eileen’s statement was harmless and would not warrant reversal.”
“Here, Eileen’s brief statement was not critical to the prosecution’s case and the statement was not mentioned by the trial court during the verdict. See Burton, 2012 IL App (2d) 110769, ‘l[ 15. Therefore, any error in admitting Eileen’s statement was, at most, harmless.”
All I can say is WOW. Eileen’s statement (and we need to pick which sister to believe) is the cornerstone to the case, and Eileen’s lying about Jack being home that night.
At trial, it was undisputed that Maria was kidnapped in Sycamore after 6:00 p.m. on December 3, 1957, two blocks from defendant’s home. R. 798-800, 821-22; PI. Ex. 7. None of the statements in the reports demonstrate that it was impossible for defendant to have kidnapped and killed Maria that night.
Far from establishing defendant’s alibi, the excluded FBI reports demonstrate that it was quite possible for defendant to have been at the scene of the crime. Cf Fritz, 84 TIL 2d at 76-77. The exclusion of the reports, therefore, did not deny defendant the right to present a defense.
Obviously, another person that has not bothered to read the FBI documents.
Well, we have gone from “maybe” related to rape, to “quite possible” Jack could have committed the crime.
Three years after Jack’s arrest, we are still dealing with “maybe” and “possible” as words used to show he is guilty.
But fear not my friends, we only put people in prison for murder when they are guilty BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT…. maybe….. possibly….