Rodney Adkins

A man convicted of murdering an Oak Park woman in 2003 will still face the death penalty despite his appeals, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Rodney Adkins, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for murdering Catherine McAvinchey after she walked in on him burglarizing her Washington Boulevard condo, had appealed to the Supreme Court, saying his original trial had been flawed.

However, the court upheld the ruling and the death sentence in this case, writing in its opinion that Adkins’ original trial was fair, and that the death penalty was appropriate in this case.

Adkins “has an extensive criminal record. He cannot claim to have led a relatively blameless life, or to have been reacting to a perceived threat of physical violence,” the Supreme Court wrote. “He killed a helpless woman, who could not have prevented him from fleeing the scene.”

Adkins’ attorneys argued that a life sentence in prison would be punishment enough. Over his numerous prison stays prior to McAvinchey’s murder, he had often shown good behavior and had not been a danger to other inmates.

However, the court said that without an incentive for early release, Adkins’ good behavior might disappear.

“If faced with the reality of a sentence of natural life in prison and the certainty that he will die there, the incentive for good behavior will evaporate,” the court wrote.

Adkins’ execution is set for March 15, 2011. However, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s moratorium on the death penalty is still in place.

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Ben was Wednesday Journal's crime, parks, and River Forest reporter, until he kept bugging us enough to promote him. Now he's managing two of Wednesday Journal's sister papers in the city, Chicago Journal...

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