Convicted Killer Granted New Trial

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A Peoria County judge has granted a new trial to a Peoria man convicted of murder nearly 47 years ago.

Cleve Heidelberg, 74, was convicted of killing Peoria County Sheriff’s deputy Sgt. Ray Espinoza May 26, 1970 while Espinoza responded to a report of an attempted robbery at the Bellevue Drive-In Theater.

Heidelberg has maintained his innocence since his arrest.

The Journal Star reports Peoria County Circuit Court Judge Albert Purham Jr. ruled Thursday that statements made by Matthew Clark that his brother, James, killed Heidelberg are credible and Heidelberg should get a new trial.

James Clark, as well as other witnesses in Heidelberg’s original trial, have since died.

Heidelberg will remain in custody pending a bond hearing.

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