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posted: 3/3/2010 12:01 AM

Former inmate: Tenney 'wants to be bigger than Brian Dugan'

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  • Jerry Weber

    Jerry Weber


Awaiting trial for his third murder, Edward Tenney wanted to make sure his name made prime time.

A former DuPage County jail inmate testified Tuesday that Tenney concocted a fame-seeking plot to kill a prosecutor in court with a handmade knife the killer bragged he would use during a sneak attack.

Timothy Kortz said Tenney showed him the weapon while detailing the murderous plan in late 2007. At the time, Kortz was jailed on car theft charges. He later wrote a March 12, 2008 letter about the plot to the DuPage County state's attorneys office while serving a five-year stint in a state prison.

"He's going to bring it to court and attack you," Kortz testified, quoting his letter. "He has grown his hair into horns and thinks he's the devil. This is a very sick man."

"He wants to be bigger than Brian Dugan," Kortz continued, referring to another infamous murderer housed near Tenney before a jury sent him to death row last year for the 1983 murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico of Naperville. "He said he enjoys killing. Ed Tenney should never ever be allowed to walk a free man again."

Tenney, 50, is serving two life prison terms for the 1993 fatal shootings of 75-year-old Virginia Johannessen and dairy heiress Mary Jill Oberweis, 56. The two widows, who lived alone, were killed 10 months apart in separate home invasions in an affluent Aurora Township neighborhood in Kane County.

Last week, a DuPage County jury convicted Tenney of a third murder - his first - for the fatal shooting of Jerry Weber late April 16, 1992. Tenney robbed the 24-year-old Aurora man of a wallet containing $6, as Weber tried to free his van from a muddy field, three weeks after his second son was born.

The jury, led by a 65-year-old Willowbrook woman as its foreman, is considering whether to impose a death sentence. If not, Tenney will receive his third life prison term.

In urging a death sentence, prosecutors presented more than one dozen witnesses to detail Tenney's life of violence. He was convicted of robbing businesses, burglarizing homes, possessing weapons, and repeated jail escape attempts in Illinois and Florida during a criminal history that dates back to when he was 17.

The prosecution will rest its case Wednesday after calling Sharon Weber as its final witness. The widow is expected to deliver an emotional victim-impact statement. Her sons, David and Erik, joined her in court Tuesday.

Kortz said Tenney enjoyed his "celebrity" status in the jail and wanted to kill a prosecutor so that he would garner "prime time" television notoriety. Tenney was never charged with threatening a public official, but sheriff's officials testified they nabbed him with homemade weapons during his incarceration.

The defense team plans to present mental health experts who will testify that Tenney suffered severe emotional and physical abuse while growing up in a dysfunctional family that led him from an early age to take a "defensive protective stance for what he perceived to be a hostile world."

The sentencing hearing, before DuPage Circuit Judge Daniel Guerin, may end Friday.