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Attorneys For Burger King Murder Suspect Want Charges Dropped

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) -- Defense attorneys for the man accused in the 2006 murder of a Lindenhurst Burger King manager are asking a judge to drop the charges.

As WBBM Newsradio 780's Debra Dale reports, James Ealy, now 46, is charged in the Nov. 27, 2006, slaying of Mary Hutchison, 45, of Trevor, Wis. Prosecutors said Ealy strangled Hutchison with her uniform bow tie at a Burger King on Grand Avenue in Lindenhurst.

But attorneys for Ealy now say police unlawfully confronted him just hours after the murder, and used illegally-obtained evidence to pursue charges against him, the Daily Herald reported.

Attorneys say police entered Ealy's Lake Villa apartment without permission, and found a small amount of marijuana that they used to justify subsequent search warrants on the apartment and Ealy's car and cell phone, the Daily Herald reported.

But the search turned up money allegedly stolen from the restaurant and blood-stained clothes. Also, Ealy's cell phone records showed he called the Burger King the morning of the murder.

Ealy had been an employee of the Burger King, and prosecutors said shortly after the murders that he had left on good terms. He had gotten a new job at a McDonald's in Gurnee.

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty in the case – a decision that pleased Hutchison's family at the time.

"In the Bible, it says an eye for an eye, a leg for a leg, a life for a life," Hutchison's husband, Ken, said last year.

But prosecutors are now seeking life in prison for Ealy, since Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, the Daily Herald reported.

Prior to being charged with Hutchison's murder, Ealy had faced unrelated charges of rape and use and possession of a firearm, among others.

The Lindenhurst Burger King closed about four months after the murder.

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