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updated: 4/2/2013 2:26 PM

North Chicago man pleads not guilty in shooting of Chicago teen

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The man accused of killing a teen in North Chicago hours after her younger sister was attending a gun control speech by President Barack Obama pleaded not guilty to the murder in Lake County court Tuesday.

Jim McPherson, 21, of North Chicago, was arraigned on three counts of first-degree murder in front of Lake County Judge Christopher Stride.

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Janay McFarlane, 18, was gunned down about 11:30 p.m. on Feb 15 in the 1300 block of Jackson Avenue in North Chicago. The shooting took place hours after McFarlane's sister sat near President Obama while he spoke of controlling gun violence in the nation.

Prosecutors said McFarlane was with two friends near the corner of Jackson and 14th streets where McPherson produced a handgun and shot McFarlane in the head. The confrontation between the two happened after some words were exchanged at a nearby convenience store, authorities said.

McPherson could be sentenced up to 85 years in prison if found guilty of the shooting, officials said.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim will personally prosecute the case. The move is significant because most cases in Lake County are handled by assistant state's attorneys.

A trial date has been set for May 31, but it's believed that date will be pushed back. McPherson is due back in court April 17. He remains in Lake County jail in lieu of $3 million bond.

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