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Wheaton man gets 55 years in steak-knife slaying

Updated: May 28, 2013 5:01PM

A Wheaton man who fatally stabbed his neighbor but argued the 2009 killing occurred in self-defense was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison.

Jurors hearing Michael Delaney’s trial last February rejected that claim, instead convicting him of first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Michael Scalzo.

DuPage County Judge Daniel Guerin likewise dismissed any claim of self-defense and noted the 49-year-old Delaney has been convicted of five previous felonies and served four prior prison terms.

“His violence has been repetitive, it’s been escalating and now it’s deadly. He must be removed from society,” Guerin said as he sentenced Delaney, who stabbed Scalzo six times during a parking lot confrontation.

The prison term likely will keep Delaney behind bars until he is 100 years old.

That’s fine with Scalzo’s relatives, who said they wanted him locked up so he couldn’t harm anyone else.

“I’m thrilled—absolutely, 100 percent,” said Scalzo’s mother, Janet. “One of my biggest fears is he would somehow snake out of this and do it again.”

Scalzo was killed on June 19, 2009 when he tried to defuse an argument between Delaney and Delaney’s former girlfriend outside the Wheaton apartment building where all three lived.

Delaney first scuffled with Scalzo, then stabbed him repeatedly with a steak knife as Scalzo turned to walk away, prosecutors said.

“He offered safe harbor to a girl he barely knew and that cost him his life,” Assistant Sate’s Attorney Timothy Diamond said of Scalzo.

Delaney, a former U.S. Army soldier who previously had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, had mental problems that led him to believe he was in danger from Scalzo, defense attorneys argued.

Delaney before being sentenced again insisted he was attacked by Scalzo.

“This was not my doing at all,” Delaney told the judge. “Mike Scalzo attacked me.”

Delaney had been represented by court-appointed attorneys, though he has been receiving about $2,100 a month in disability payments because of his diagnosis.

Prosecutors said they will seek a court order forcing him to reimburse the DuPage County public defender’s office for his legal expenses.

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