A northern Illinois judge has refused to immediately release a man sentenced to life in prison for the 1957 killing of a 7-year-old girl despite accusations that the investigation and trial were deeply flawed.

A DeKalb County judge on Friday declined a request from Jack McCullough's attorneys to release the 76-year-old following a scathing report from the local prosecutor who said evidence cleared McCullough.

McCullough was initially cleared by investigators in the slaying of his neighbor, Maria Ridulph, but was charged in 2012 after investigators reopened the case. It was one of the oldest cases to ever have gone to trial.

Judge William Brady said he's agonized over the case but is obliged to follow a slower process. He says he may reconsider the request at an April 15 hearing.