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Article posted: 5/21/2013 5:43 PM

Guilty plea in slaying of Lake Villa Township Bears fan

By Bob Susnjara

Matthew Reid Hinson has admitted to killing a Lake Villa Township man who was in a bar the night before he planned to watch the Bears play last fall in Jacksonville, Fla.

Duval County state's attorney spokeswoman Jackelyn Barnard said Hinson, 28, of Jacksonville, entered a straight-up guilty plea to second-degree murder during a court appearance Tuesday.

A hearing to decide Hinson's sentencing date is set for May 28. Barnard said Hinson faces 20 years to life in prison.

"I can tell you, we are seeking life," Barnard said.

William Christopher Pettry, 42, was fatally stabbed inside the Jacksonville pub Oct. 7. He was a married father of three children ages 5, 13 and 15.

Duval County authorities said Hinson slashed Pettry's throat with a pocket knife inside Fionn MacCool's Irish Pub and Restaurant about 12:30 a.m. Hinson became "jealous" and "enraged" after seeing his wife talking to Pettry, and sliced his throat while the two men sat on a bench, according to police.

Karen Pettry expressed satisfaction about Hinson's guilty plea in a statement Tuesday.

"Now we will not have to have a long trial. Thank you God!!!!" she wrote.

Nick Viverito, 42, of Chicago, has said he and longtime friend Pettry had traveled to Jacksonville to watch a Bears-Jaguars game. Viverito said he, Pettry and an older couple were at an outdoor table when Hinson's wife and a female friend asked to sit in two unoccupied chairs. Viverito said the women were waiting for Hinson to meet them at the tavern. He said there was only group conversation and they weren't hitting on the women.

Several Bears players helped Pettry's family by hosting fundraisers. In one effort, the players worked as actors at the Realm of Terror Haunted House in Round Lake Beach.

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