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Sentencing Set For Next Month In Burger King Murder

James Ealy

James Ealy is charged with the 2006 murder of Mary Hutchison, the manager of a Burger King in Lindenhurst. (Credit: CBS)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – Almost seven years after Mary Hutchison, a 45-year-old wife and mother, was strangled as she was preparing to open the former Burger King restaurant in Lindenhurst, final preparations for the sentencing of her killer are under way.

Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Shanes set a sentencing date of Oct. 9 for James Ealy, 48, of Lake Villa, who stands convicted of strangling Hutchison with her uniform bow tie in a robbery that netted him $1,701.

Although prosecutors were not allowed to mention Ealy’s prior criminal history during his jury trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Pavletic said Wednesday that details of a previous quadruple homicide in Chicago and past sexual assault convictions will be outlined during the sentencing procedures.

Ealy previously was convicted of strangling a pregnant woman and three children in a Chicago apartment in 1982.

Christine Parker, her two daughters and her 3-year-old grandson were all discovered slain on Aug. 16, 1982, in her home at the Rockwell Gardens housing project.

Ealy, who at the time of the killings was dating Parker’s 15-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison.

An Illinois Appellate Court tossed out his conviction in 1986, ruling Chicago Police lacked probable cause to question him — a decision that also barred crucial evidence used to convict Ealy. Cook County prosecutors ultimately opted not to seek a second trial in that case.

In May, a Lake County jury found Ealy guilty on one count of first-degree murder in the death of Hutchison after three hours of deliberation.

Evidence against Ealy included cellphone records showing he called the restaurant around the time of Hutchison’s murder. Police also found $110 in dimes and quarters in his apartment — the exact amount of change records show was stolen from the restaurant.

Shanes also ruled Wednesday that one media camera will be allowed in the courtroom for Ealy’s sentencing. He said the pool photographer would be allowed to take still shots and video but no audio during the procedure. Defense attorneys had asked that cameras not be allowed at the sentencing hearing.

Ealy faces a sentencing range 20 years to life in prison.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)