WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) — A Lake County jury has convicted James Ealy of strangling his former boss during a 2006 robbery at the north suburban Burger King restaurant where he once worked, the Sun-Times is reporting.
Jurors deliberated for a little more than three hours Friday before finding Ealy guilty on one count of first-degree murder in the death of 45-year-old Mary Hutchison.
Ealy faces a minimum prison sentence of 20 years and up to life behind bars.
It’s the second time the 48-year-old has been convicted of murder, though jurors who decided this case weren’t told about his earlier convictions for a 1982 Chicago quadruple-killing.
In that earlier case, Ealy was found guilty of strangling four people in the Rockwell Gardens housing complex, including his teenage girlfriend, her 3-year-old son and her pregnant mother.
Those convictions were overturned on appeal in 1986 in a ruling that barred so much evidence from the case that prosecutors were unable to retry him for the slayings.
But 20 years later, Ealy was charged with strangling Hutchison with the bow tie of her uniform on Nov. 27, 2006, while robbing the Lindenhurst restaurant she managed. The early morning robbery allegedly netted him $1,701, prosecutors have said.
Much of that cash — including $110 in dimes and quarters taken from the restaurant — later was found in his Lake Villa apartment, prosecutors said during his trial.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)