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The trial of accused murderer James F. Pender is expected to start Wednesday. Pender is accused of stalking and bludgeoning his estranged wife to death in River Forest in March 2005.

Trial Judge Thomas Tucker told the prosecution and defense this week in court that he expected jury selection to be conducted Tuesday, with opening statements on Wednesday, followed by the prosecution’s case. The defense is expected to present its case on Thursday, with final arguments scheduled for Friday.

Last September, Dr. Matthew Markos, director of Forensic Clinical Services for Cook County courts, testified that Pender was mentally fit to stand trial, despite his defense lawyer’s insistence that he could not. On Jan. 28, Tucker formally ruled him fit for trial.

Pender, 57, formerly of Harwood Heights, has been held in Cook County Jail without bond since his arrest in March 16, 2005, by River Forest police. That night, River Forest police responded to a phone call reporting that a woman was being beaten in front of a townhouse at 500 Park Ave, just 200 feet from the River Forest police station. An officer who ran out of the police station found Therese Pender, 41, bleeding profusely and unresponsive on the parkway at Lake and Park. She died within an hour to Loyola Medical Center.

Police had found a bloody hammer near the scene of the attack and her husband less than a block away. James Pender was arrested without incident.

Therese Pender had had a court order of protection against James Pender, from whom she’d filed for divorce in December. She was living with friends in River Forest to avoid contact with her husband.

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