A man convicted in May of strangling a Burger King manager to death seven years ago will spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.
James Ealy was sentenced Wednesday for strangling 45-year-old Mary Hutchison, of Trevor, Wis., during a November 2006 robbery at the Lindenhurst restaurant she managed. After the slaying, prosecutors said Ealy stole cash from the restaurant safe and headed to a job in Gurnee.
In his statement to the court, Ealy apologized to Hutchison's family members, who were gathered in the courtroom at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, but said he couldn't accept responsibility for her death.
"I'm not guilty of that act. I was railroaded. What the police officers did to me in this case was wrong," he said. "Everybody wants to treat me like a monster. Those police officers are nothing but criminals with badges. You don't know that 'cause you're white. I'm still going to fight this until the day I die. I've done some things in my life that I'm not proud of, but I did not commit this crime.
Ealy was convicted in 1982 in the deaths of a Chicago woman and her three children, but an appellate court overturned the conviction on a technicality.