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Judge Sets Bond at $500K for Heidelberg to be Released from Custody

Cass Herrington
Peoria Public Radio

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

On Fri., Peoria County Judge Al Purham set bond for Heidelberg at $500,000, which means he must put up 10 percent, $50,000, to be released from custody. He will remain in jail until his attorneys and supporters come up with the money.

Heidelberg’s defense says an anonymous donor has already committed half of the money, if they can successfully raise the remaining funds.

During Friday's hearing, Matt Jones, who represents the State Appellate Prosecutor's Office, listed off incidents from Heidelberg’s prior criminal history as well has his numerous violations while in custody. Some offenses during his incarceration are minor, like failing to turn off the lights, but they also include several altercations with other inmates.

“What the record shows, is for 47 years, Mr. Heidelberg does what he wants to do, when he wants to do it, and nobody is going to tell him differently. His record as a 74-year-old ill man in the Peoria County Jail says exactly the same thing,” Jones said.

Heidelberg’s attorney Andy Hale responded saying, in essence, that prison a rough place, fights happen, and for someone who’s spent nearly half a century in prison -- it’s not that alarming. Judge Purham ultimately ruled that Heidelberg, who’s in poor health, can be released.

Hale offered to find Heidelberg a temporary place to live, near the suburb of Park Ridge, where Hale resides. Heidelberg would be required to wear a GPS device, issued by Cook County.

Meantime, Peoria County State’s Attorney Jerry Brady still has to decide whether he will retry the case.

"The likelihood of a conviction is extremely weak. There is no evidence against this man," Hale said.

Cleve Heidelberg was convicted of murdering a Peoria County Sheriff's Sergeant during an armed robbery at the Bellvue Drive-In in 1970. Judge Purham overturned his guilty conviction on Apr. 20.

Heidelberg has a few living relatives and friends waiting for him on the other side, including his son. Steve Heidelberg, has been quietly observing this year’s court proceedings, seemingly from a distance.

“It doesn’t matter to me, if he’s out or in. My life isn’t going to change, regardless. I’m going to be 54 years old in a couple of months," Heidelberg said.  "I’m living my life, so nothing’s going to change.”

Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio
Peoria Public Radio
Cleve Heidelberg's son, Steve, looks on as attorney Andy Hale speaks to reporters after Friday's bond hearing. Steve Heidelberg, 54, lives in Springfield.

Steve Heidelberg says he didn’t know his father was locked up, until his Mom and stepfather broke the news, when he turned 12. For that reason, Steve says, he’s been detached from his father -- who he’s only seen in prison-issued clothing.