(WGN-AM)- A 57-year-old Harwood Heights man was sentenced to life in prison without parole Tuesday for murdering his estranged wife, who had taken out an order of protection against him.
James Pender was sentenced by Judge Thomas Tucker in the Cook County courthouse in Maywood for the beating death of 41-year-old Therese Pender, who was struck in the head several times with a hammer as she walked home from the River Forest Metra station in March 2005.
Pender's guilty plea did not come with an agreed-upon sentence. Prosecutors said they still intended to seek the death penalty.
Pender could have received a sentence ranging from 20 years in prison to the death penalty.
According to authorities, after four years of marriage, Therese Pender, 41, had filed for divorce from Pender and received an order of protection in December 2004. A few weeks later, the order of protection was extended until April 26, 2005.
On March 16, 2005, James Pender, took a Metra train to River Forest, where he sat in a nearby park with a briefcase containing several knives, a chisel, a lead pipe and a hammer, said Assistant State's Attorney David Sabatini.
When he saw Therese Pender walking across a street at 6:15 p.m., he took the hammer out of the briefcase and approached her from behind. Sabatini said Pender told police he "tapped" her on the top of the head with the hammer.
She screamed and ran, Sabatini said, but Pender followed her and repeatedly struck her on the head before he ran from the 500 block of Park Avenue, where the attack had occurred. She later died at Loyola University Medical Center. An autopsy revealed she had five blunt-force-trauma wounds on her head.
Pender was arrested nearby, and his coat and the hammer both had Therese Pender's blood on them, Sabatini said. He also had Therese Pender's cell phone.
(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story)
Get the latest news at the top and bottom of every hour on News/Talk 720, WGN
Harwood Heights Man Get Life Sentence For Murdering Wife
Prosecutors Still Intend To Seek Death Penalty
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.