Death penalty formally withdrawn in Addison double murder

Citing Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision last week to abolish the death penalty in Illinois, DuPage County prosecutors Monday formally withdrew plans to seek the ultimate punishment for an Addison man accused of murdering his mother and a prostitute in 2006.

Gary Schuning, 28, now faces a mandatory sentence of natural life in prison if convicted of both killings, Judge John Kinsella said.

Schuning is scheduled for trial this spring on first-degree murder charges in the Feb. 26, 2006, stabbing deaths of his mother, Doris Pagliaro, and 21-year-old Kristi Hoenig of Chicago.

Although Quinn’s decision to abolish the death penalty does not take effect until July, the governor has already commuted the sentences of 15 death row inmates to life in prison.

Assistant State’s Attorney Alex McGimpsey told Kinsella the decision to decertify Schuning’s capital case was “based on the governor’s ruling only.”

As a result, Kinsella said he will request a jury pool of 75 rather than 120. He said he also expects jury selection and some evidentiary parts of the trial to move more quickly.

“It does change the tenor of the trial dramatically,” he said.

Schuning is accused of fatally stabbing Pagliaro after returning home from a night of partying, then using her credit card to hire a young prostitute to visit their house on the 300 block of South Yale Street in Addison.

Schuning also is charged with killing the escort, Kristi Hoenig, 21, of Chicago, that same morning after she reportedly found a bloody knife. Prosecutors announced in August 2006 that they intended to seek the death penalty.

Schuning returns to court April 8, with jury selection set to begin April 29.