Motion denied to reconsider sentence in strangulation murder
By Jim Newton firstname.lastname@example.org | @JimNewton5 October 18, 2013 10:04AM
Updated: November 20, 2013 6:09AM
In a perfunctory hearing Thursday, a motion to reconsider the sentence of natural life in prison for James Ealy, who strangled his former boss during the 2006 robbery of a Burger King restaurant in Lindenhurst, was denied.
The motion was denied by Lake County Circuit Court Judge Judge Daniel Shanes, who earlier this month sentenced Ealy, 49, of Lake Villa, to life in prison for the murder of Mary Hutchinson, a 45-year-old wife and mother of three from Trevor, Wisconsin.
The action Oct.17 was the final formality for the Lake County Public Defender’s Office in handing off the case to the Appellate Court for the appeals process.
“The appeal has begun,” said public defender Keith Grant, who added that a state appellate lawyer will now be assigned to the case.
Ealy, who spent the years between the murder and his conviction in Lake County Jail, will now be an inmate with the Illinois Department of Corrections.
A Lake County jury found Ealy guilty of first-degree murder in the case in May.
At the sentencing hearing earlier this month, Prosecutor Jeffrey Pavletic called Ealy a predator and a “sociopath” who lacked capacity for remorse.
The sentencing hearing focused not only on the murder of Hutchinson — his former boss at Burger King — but also a previous conviction, later overturned due to improper procedures used by Chicago police, for strangling four members of a Chicago family, including a woman who was seven months pregnant and a three-year-old boy who was also raped in the attack.
The Appellate Court judges who ruled on the Chicago case noted that although the evidence was not properly obtained in that case, it was substantial enough to prove Ealy’s guilt.
Grant said the emphasis of the Chicago murders at the sentencing hearing was one of the factors in his motion to reconsider the sentencing. The hearing on the motion to reconsider lasted only minutes.
At the earlier sentencing hearing, Kenneth Hutchison, Mary’s husband, detailed the devastating impact the murder had on him, their children and the rest of her family.
“My family can finally have some closure to this nightmare and the murder of my wife Mary,” he said.