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updated: 6/7/2011 12:47 PM

Suspect in slaying of Burger King manager wants evidence tossed

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  • James Ealy

    James Ealy


Defense attorneys for the man accused in the 2006 murder of a Lindenhurst Burger King restaurant manager filed motions Monday asking a judge to throw out the suspect's arrest and evidence obtained against him.

Lawyers for James Ealy, 46, say in the motions that police unlawfully confronted their client just hours after the body of Mary Hutchison was found and used illegally obtained evidence to build a case against him.

Ealy at one time faced the death penalty for the Nov. 27, 2006, strangulation of Hutchison at the former Burger King restaurant on Grand Avenue where they both worked.

After Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation banning the death penalty in Illinois, prosecutors announced they would seek a sentence of life in prison instead.

Motions filed Monday by Assistant Public Defender Keith Grant argue that police appeared at the door of Ealy's apartment in Lake Villa on the day of the murder and entered without a warrant or permission.

Once inside, the motion says, police found a small amount of marijuana that they used to justify later search warrants for Ealy's apartment, car and cellphone. Following Ealy's arrest on Dec. 1, 2006, police said they found money inside his apartment in the exact amount and denominations as that stolen from the restaurant, and that his cellphone records indicated he had called the restaurant twice in the hours just before the murder.

Police said Ealy, who was fired from the restaurant weeks before the murder, called the restaurant to make sure Hutchison was there alone before going inside to rob her and kill the only witness to the crime. Grant also filed a motion saying that Ealy was illegally detained by police and questioned for 16 hours without regard to his constitutional right to remain silent.