Man sentenced to death in family killings

February 27, 2008 5:30:07 PM PST
Eric Hanson has been sentenced to death for the murdering his parents, his sister and his brother-in-law. They were all found dead in a home in Aurora in 2005.

The same jury that convicted Hanson took just 90 minutes Wednesday to hand down the death sentence.

The jury took less time to reach a verdict on the death penalty than it did to find Eric Hanson guilty, and that only took three hours. Hanson joins 13 others on death row in Illinois.

It did not come as a surprise to DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett that the jury reached a quick verdict.

"Obviously it was a monstrous crime. It was cold, calculated, premeditated slaughter of four innocent human beings," Birkett said.

Birkett said the death penalty is for the worst of the worst and said Eric Hanson is in that category. It took only a short time for the jury to reach the same conclusion.

"He has never cared for anything but Eric Hanson. That's the kind of individual that you find on death row," said Birkett.

Prosecutors say Hanson killed his family out of greed. Hanson shot his parents, Mary and Terry Hanson, and bludgeoned to death his sister Kate and her husband Jimmy Tsao, after Hanson's mother and sister found out that he was stealing over $80,000 from his parents. All four bodies were found in his sister's upscale Aurora home on September 29 of 2005.

Hanson had spent a lifetime dealing with behavioral and emotional problems. His surviving sister, Jennifer Williams, testified against her brother at the trial. She always believed that he was guilty and she helped the prosecution pursue the case against Hanson.

"Jennifer has always supported this prosecution. She recognizes that the decision as to whether or not to seek capital punishment is in my hands, was in my hands. And that is just the beginning of the process," said Birkett.

Jennifer Williams was in the courtroom Wednesday when the verdict was read. She did begin to cry. She has never publicly talked about this case and Wednesday was no different. She and other family members did release a one-page statement and say they have endured this entire trial with heavy hearts and there are no winners at the end of this process, only great losses. They also said they have asked for their right for privacy to be respected and they do not wish to make any further comments.