Charges dropped in fatal Joliet hit-and-run, suspect deemed delusional

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Prosecutors dropped criminal charges against in connection with the fatal 2008 hit-and-run accident that killed Joliet resident Melissa Lech. (WLS)

Will County prosecutors dropped criminal charges Thursday against a Naperville man accused of killing Joliet resident Melissa Lech in a 2008 hit-and-run accident after he claimed responsibility for the fatality years later.

Charges against David McCarthy IV were dismissed after a psychologist's report found he made a false confession because he suffers from a mental disorder that causes delusions. Prosecutors also say a paint chip from the crime scene did not match McCarthy's vehicle.

"We weighed those psychiatric evaluations against the strength of the physical evidence from the scene of the accident and we made the determination that we can't move forward with this case, we can't meet our burden of proof," said Charles Pelkie, Will County State's Attorney spokesperson.

Investigators say McCarthy went to Lech's sister's house in February 2012 and allegedly confessed to the family that he run over Melissa and left the scene. Joliet police arrested him later that day.

Authorities say McCarthy's confession came after NASCAR driver Kevin Conway heard about the case and featured Melissa Lech's photo along with a plea for information on his car during a nationally-televised race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet in September 2011.

The victim's mother, Maria Lech, says she attended the hearing hoping for justice, but instead is left with anger over the outcome.

"There is no closure, her room in our house is still waiting for her," said Maria Lech, victim's mother.

Lech filed a wrongful death lawsuit against McCarthy that was settled last year. Will County authorities say the investigation into the hit-and-run is ongoing.

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hit and runJoliet
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