A woman who was sentenced to prison nearly three decades ago for her alleged role in the death of a wealthy Kankakee businessman has asked for a new trial based on an affidavit from her former boyfriend, who was also accused in the murder plot.
Nancy Rish, 53, and her former boyfriend Danny Edwards were accused of kidnapping publisher Stephen Small on Sept. 2, 1987, and forcing him to make his own ransom calls before burying him alive in a plywood box in a remote area outside of Kankakee. A pipe which supposedly would have provided air failed to function, and Small suffocated before a million dollar ransom could be paid.
Edwards was accused of masterminding the murder plot, but prosecutors said Rish was a willing accomplice.
Now, Rish has asked for a new trial based on an affidavit from Edwards saying she knew nothing of the plot.
"I actively worked to conceal my plan from Nancy Rish, so that she would have no knowledge of what I was doing," Edwards writes.
Assistant Attorney General Erin O'Connell, the prosecutor, argued against Rish's latest bid for freedom, saying she carried out acts that assisted Edwards in committing the kidnapping.
Judge Gordon Lustfeldt pointed to an almost identical Illinois case that suggested an affidavit from a guilty co-defendant was not enough. The true test, he said, was whether that would carry enough weight to sway a reasonable juror.
Judge Lustfeldt ordered the defense to study up on the case and come back to him with a new argument.
"Hopefully the Lord touches him and lets him see the true evidence, that she didn't have anything to do with this crime," Benjamin Rish, Nancy's son, said.