After seven years, it's finally over for ex-mayor

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ROCKFORD - Seven years after initial charges were filed, the case against former South Beloit Mayor Randy Kirichkow was dismissed Monday.

Winnebago County Circuit Judge Brendan Maher granted a motion to dismiss all charges which was filed by Kirichkow's attorney Jerry Lund.

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato said in a statement that his office will consider its options in the case.

"The State is considering its options including consulting with the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor's Office regarding the merits of an appeal," Bruscato said.

Lund filed a motion for a bill of particulars on Nov. 29, asking the state to explain what Kirichkow did that was illegal. When the state filed its response to that motion, Lund then ask Maher to grant a motion to dismiss all charges.

"It is very unusual for a judge to grant a motion to dismiss for failure to state a charge," Lund said.

Kirichkow was charged in 2011 with obstruction of justice-destruction of evidence and misconduct in office. At the same time, former South Beloit police chief Tom Fearn and former South Beloit police sergeant Brad McCaslin also were charged. All three men's charges stemmed from a video showing a woman who had been arrested in 2008 in handcuffs and shackled by her leg to a bench in the South Beloit Police Department. The woman, Veronica McIntyre, was in an agitated state. The video showed the woman being tased by McCaslin and apparently choked by Fearn.

Fearn accepted a plea agreement in August 2013 when he pleaded guilty to misconduct in office. He was sentenced to two years of probation. Battery and armed violence charges were dismissed.

McCaslin was found not guilty of armed violence and official misconduct during a bench trial before Judge John Truitt in May of 2016. The charges against McCaslin were split into two separate cases and he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in June of 2017. He was sentenced to one year of probation. Charges of destruction of evidence and filing a false insurance claim were dismissed.

The prosecution argued that Kirichkow was guilty of concealing evidence, namely the video of McCaslin and Fearn assaulting McIntyre.

The video played a role in the South Beloit City Council's decision to give a settlement to McCaslin in 2010 because he had threatened to file a federal lawsuit against the city. A five-minute excerpt of the video was shown to the council before it decided to approve the settlement. The video in its entirety was about an hour long and the portion shown to the council was of Fearn apparently choking McIntyre.

Lund said the judge concluded as a matter of law the state failed to state charges against his client.

He said the state's argument that Kirichkow destroyed evidence didn't make sense because the entire incident existed on a video on a computer hard drive and it was available for viewing in its entirety. He added, Kirichkow did not edit or create the video that the other council members viewed.

"My position from the beginning of this investigation has been that my client never did anything wrong," Lund said.

Regarding the length of time it took for the case against Kirichkow to come to a conclusion, Lund said the delays were due to other cases connected to Kirichkow's case.

"Obviously there were a lot of related cases to these allegations that caused substantial delays, which only were added to by the retirement of the previously assigned judge," Lund said.

Truitt had been the judge assigned to the cases against Fearn, McCaslin and Kirichkow, but he retired in November of 2016. McCaslin also had changed from a private attorney to a public defender, and then changed to another public defender when the previous attorney died.

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