(WGN-AM)- Saying a Harwood Heights man had "excuses -- not remorse," a Cook County judge sentenced him to 45 years in prison for the murder of his boss at a Northwest Side construction company.
Tom Tuduj, 37, will have to serve the entire 40-year sentence for the murder of Gary Poter. Circuit Judge Jorge Alonso also sentenced him to an additional 5 years in prison for attempting to disarm a police officer after his arrest. Following a bench trial in January, Alonso found Tuduj guilty of the May 2006 slaying. Tuduj stabbed him with a kitchen knife because he was angry that Poter demoted him a day earlier and cut his pay by $10,000.
Tuduj, who claimed during the trial that a toxic mix of drugs caused him to unwittingly kill his boss, rambled on for nearly a half-hour before he was sentenced. He repeatedly told Poter's family he was sorry that he did not read medication labels for warnings of possible harm.
He asked the judge for mercy, saying he would dedicate his life to trying to save others from harmful prescription drugs.
Alonso was unmoved, saying, "I don't think anyone has ever used the word 'sorry' so many times and not had remorse."
Poter's children -- Jessica, 22; Cameron, 20; and Jeremy, 14 -- told Alonso how they miss their father's infectious humor and his involvement in their lives, coaching baseball games, attending recitals and drinking strange kitchen concoctions on a dare, just to make them laugh.
His murder, Cameron said, robbed him of the man he turned to for guidance.
"Since I've been in college, there have been many numerous times when I've been confused and wanted to call him for advice," Cameron said. "Instead, I have to guess at what he would have said and hope that I am right."
Poter's wife, Karen, said the murder stole away the person who made her laugh more than "anyone in the world," the man she relied on to help her raise their children. His company, Poter Construction and Development, crumbled after his death and forced her to sell their dream home.
"I no longer have my best friend, my lover, my confidant," she said. "Seeing the person who did this punished to the fullest extent of the law will give some comfort that justice has been served."
As Tuduj was led away by deputies, he bowed toward the Poter family in the gallery but did not look at his weeping mother and sister.
(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story)
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