Lake County sheriff calls for prosecutor to be fired

Citing what he called “a 16-year record of outrageous statements,” Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran said Thursday he has requested the termination of an assistant state's attorney.

Curran said he met with Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller on Thursday to ask that Assistant State's Attorney Michael Mermel be fired.

Mermel, a prosecutor in Waller's office since 1990, was quoted in a Nov. 26 New York Times Sunday Magazine article regarding the Juan Rivera murder case.

Rivera has been convicted three times for the 1992 rape and murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan. Mermel told the magazine he believes that just because DNA in semen found inside the victim's body does not match Rivera's DNA, it does not establish Rivera's innocence.

The Times article relates a number of controversial things Mermel has said to support his prosecutions when the DNA evidence points another direction, including his contention Holly Staker had sex with a man other than Rivera before she was murdered.

Curran said there wasn't one public statement from Mermel in particular that caused him to approach Waller.

“There has been a 16-year history of outrageous statements to the press from Mr. Mermel,” he said. “Clearly, I think all of us in law enforcement are affected by this, and I am committed to doing the right thing.”

Waller could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Curran said other people in law enforcement have the same concerns, but did not want to name anyone in particular. He would not comment on Mermel's performance inside the courtroom.

“It was a difficult thing for me to do,” Curran said about going to Waller to request Mermel be fired.

“But I am disgusted by his comments and feel that they undermine the constitutional process.”

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