It turns out McCarthy made the whole story up, said prosecutors, who asked a Will County judge to turn the 30-year-old Naperville man loose Thursday.
Judge Robert Livas granted that request and after he did, the mother of the dead woman stood up, clapped slowly and sarcastically said, "Thank you."
"We are nobody," said Maria Lech, the mother of Melissa Lech, who was 20 when she was killed in August 2008.
Maria Lech pointed out that McCarthy is the son of a Naperville attorney and Melissa Lech is the daughter of a cleaning woman from Poland.
"If my daughter was a lawyer's daughter, maybe this would be different," she said.
After Maria Lech's outburst in the courtroom, Livas grimaced and pressed his hands together as he watched her turn her back and walk out.
Melissa Lech's death was shrouded in mystery for years after her body was found on McDonough Street. The night she was killed, Melissa Lech had headed with friends to Chicago to go to a White Sox game.
Melissa Lech drank on her way up to the ballpark, continued drinking at the game and on the way back to Joliet, and then headed to the West Jefferson Street bar City of Champions, a source close to the case said.
Melissa Lech, under the influence and underage, was denied service at City of Champions and turned away from the bar, the source said. Her friends stuck around at City of Champions and Melissa Lech left alone. Her friends would not see her alive again.
In 2009, with the case still unsolved, Maria Lech filed suit in Cook County Court against City of Champions, the White Sox, At Your Service LLC, Chisox Corp. and various others. The lawsuit was still pending when McCarthy turned up on the doorstep of Lech's sister Michelle three and a half years later and confessed to the hit-and-run accident.
The Cook County lawsuit was voluntarily dismissed soon after McCarthy's arrest, according to court records. Lech's mother then sued McCarthy. The wrongful death lawsuit was settled in May 2013 for $250,000 but Maria Lech said she received only a portion of the money.
After McCarthy was arrested, a psychologist found him fit to stand trial. A different psychologist retained by McCarthy's defense attorneys later determined he "suffered from a mental disease or defect, and that this disease essentially caused him to make a 'false confession' regarding his involvement in the case," according to court papers.
McCarthy's attorneys informed prosecutors of this in March. The first psychologist was then brought back to review the determination. This psychologist, Randi Zoot, deduced that it was likely McCarthy lied when confessing to Melissa Lech's sister and that it wasn't the first time he had done something like this.
"Over the years, he has admitted to a number of things, which could not possibly be true, and based upon fantasy," Zoot said in her report.
"As he has done in other situations, he has ruminated and obsessed and takes information that he may know about a situation, makes inferences about how it may apply to him, and this develops into a delusional belief," Zoot said.
Maria Lech wasn't buying it and said McCarthy "knew too much information from what was in the reports from the police" to have fabricated his confession, which he told Michelle Lech he made to clear his conscience.
Maria Lech also compared McCarthy's case to that of O.J. Simpson, whose ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman were stabbed to death 20 years ago Thursday.
"He's got rights, we have no rights," Maria Lech said.
"Who is my daughter? Nobody," Maria Lech said. "Who is he? A lawyer's son. That's what counts in this country."