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updated: 7/27/2011 6:32 PM

Suspect gave permission for search, detective says

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A detective testified Wednesday that James Ealy invited him to "look around all you want" when police were at Ealy's apartment investigating the murder of Mary Hutchison.

Ealy, 46, is seeking to keep all statements he made to police from being used against him. He is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 27, 2006 death of Hutchison at the former Burger King restaurant in Lindenhurst.

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One of the claims defense attorneys make in a motion being heard this week in Lake County circuit court is that police entered and searched Ealy's apartment without his permission about 14 hours after Hutchison's body was found.

But Charles Schletz, a Waukegan officer assigned to the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force, said Ealy called for him to "come on in," when he appeared at the door of Ealy's Lake Villa apartment.

After he entered, Schletz said, another detective showed him a small amount of marijuana and some drug paraphernalia in the bathroom of Ealy's apartment.

Schletz said that same detective asked Ealy about the marijuana as Ealy walked by the bathroom a short time later.

"Mr. Ealy asked, 'Are you going to get me on that?'" Schletz said. "And then he said, "That's all I got, you can look around all you want.'"

Police took only the marijuana and paraphernalia from Ealy's apartment that night, but when they returned a few days later they found a large amount of cash in Ealy's closet that matched the exact amount reported stolen from the Burger King.

Police said at the time of his arrest that Ealy, a former employee of the Burger King, went to the restaurant early on Nov. 27 because he knew Hutchison would be there alone.

Police believe Ealy killed Hutchison, whose body was found on the floor next to an open safe, during the course of robbing the establishment.

Testimony in the motion before Circuit Judge Fred Foreman is expected to continue today.

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