Mt. Vernon Register-News

State News

April 4, 2013

Last lawsuit in wrongful Paris convictions settled


URBANA (AP) — A federal judge has signed off on a $3.5 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by one of two men wrongfully convicted of killing newlyweds in eastern Illinois in the 1980s.

The settlement ended the last of the lawsuits filed by Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock over their convictions.

The most recent settlement with the city of Paris, two police officers, Edgar County and a prosecutor awards Steidl a total of $3.5 million. A portion of the money, $1.65 million, may be subject to further legal action because the state, which indemnifies prosecutors, has so far resisted paying legal costs for the prosecutor who handled the trials for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads.

U.S. District Judge Harold Baker approved the settlement on March 27.

"I am both pleased and relieved that, after 25 years of fighting for justice, I have finally resolved my civil case," Steidl said in a statement provided by his attorney. "While no amount of money can fully compensate me for what I have suffered, this judgment and the prior settlement establish, once and for all, that I was wrongfully convicted for crimes I did not commit."

Both Steidl and Whitlock continue to seek pardons from Gov. Pat Quinn, said Flint Taylor, Steidl's attorney.

The officers who were sued by Steidl in Paris, a small town about 60 miles southeast of Champaign, are former police Chief Gene Ray and Det. James Parrish. The prosecutor was former State's Attorney Michael McFatridge.

Terry Ekl, an attorney for McFatridge, denied that his client or the officers had done anything wrong.

"The settlement of this case does not in any way reflect any wrong doing by any police officer or the prosecution team," Ekl said in a printed statement. "The settlement is a reflection of the uncertainly of proceeding to trial. Neither Mr. Steidl nor any of the defendants were assured of winning at trial."

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