James Ealy faces up to life sentence in Burger King murder of Mary Hutchison in Lindenhurst

October 9, 2013 (WAUKEGAN, Ill.)

''Whether you give me one day or give me life, I am still going to fight because I did not commit the crime,'' Ealy said during his sentencing hearing in the murder of Mary Hutchison.

Ealy, 48, was found guilty of the gruesome murder at a Lindenhurst Burger King where he used to work in May. He stabbed Hutchison, his former boss, with a screwdriver and strangled her with the bowtie from her uniform. He then robbed the store.

During the trial, investigators said they found cash from the Burger King in Ealy's apartment and records showed he called the restaurant just minutes before. Ealy's defense attorneys argued there wasn't enough physical evidence for the conviction.

Addressing Hutchison's family, he said he was sorry for their loss, and maintained his innocence.

During the sentencing hearing on Wednesday, three members of Hutchison's family spoke, including her husband. Ken Hutchison said, "His actions have taken away a special and wonderful wife, daughter, sister and grandmother. He took away my best friend and companion."

At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, prosecutors spoke about another one of Ealy's convictions. In 1982, Ealy strangled a pregnant woman and three children in Chicago. He was convicted, but the case was later tossed out by an appellate court because of problems in the investigation.

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