Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Nicholas Sheley found fit to stand trial;case enters unchartered ground regarding fitness to represent himself.

UPDATE 12/27/2008 - I have added a link , in paragraph 11, to an interview with Sheley's ex-wife.


Today, Monday, December 22, I attended another hearing in the case of IL v. Nicholas T. Sheley. Sheley is a 29 year old Sterling, IL man accused of a two-state killing spree that left 8 people dead, in late June, 2008. Knox County is the first to prosecute Sheley. He is charged with bludgeoning to death a 65 year old Galesburg, IL man, Ronald Randall, and robbing him before he dumped his body and stole his pickup truck. If convicted, Sheley will face the death penalty.

When I pull up to the courthouse at about 1 p.m. I’m surprised to get a parking spot right in front….does it seem petty to note this?….not when it’s sub-zero temperatures and icy out , those spots become valuable! LOL ! On my way to the entrance, I take a peak at the back side of the courthouse where they usually bring in the prisoners, it doesn’t look like Sheley has been brought over from the jail yet, he is usually escorted by a caravan. The hearing is supposed to start at 1:30 p.m..

As I enter the courtroom I see there are more people here than usual. Ronald Randall’s family is here, sitting in the first two rows on the prosecution side. There are a few more of their family here today, that’s really good to see. Strength in numbers. I’m sure it’s hard for many people to attend court on a regular basis because of work. Shirley Pringle, a victims rights advocate for Knox County joins them. She does a great job and provides a lot of support. ( She rescued me today, I'll get to that later)

There are people seated on the defense side that I haven’t seen before, a young couple and an older couple who seem to be together. During Sheley’s hearings, the court wants to know who is in the courtroom and their reason for being here, I overhear the older woman say they are here for Russell Reed. The bailiff tells them if there is any trouble in the courtroom with Sheley, everyone should go to the jury room at the back far side of the courtroom. Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling is the first homicide victim in this alleged killing spree.

I must have a puzzled look on my face because the bailiff asked me wasn't I aware of the procedure if there was trouble with Sheley in the courtroom? I tell her I hadn't heard that before, but had decided on my own, if Sheley represents himself, I'm sitting in the back row. LOL ! She repeated the plan to me and said that door will be unlocked. I'm sure this plan wasn't formulated just for Sheley, Knox County has had other violent crime cases, even where the defendant represented himself....always good to have a plan.

A female (late teens or early 20’s) comes in and sits in the back row on the defense side of the courtroom. The bailiff asks her the normal questions, I couldn’t hear her response but I do hear the bailiff tell her she is not allowed to say anything to Sheley when he comes in the courtroom, if she does she will be asked to leave. Hmmm, I will try to find out more about her.

Next I see a Whiteside County Sheriff deputy, in uniform, speaking with some of the Sheriff’s deputies from Knox County. I get the impression from their conversation, the Knox County guys would be glad to ship Sheley back to Whiteside County with this guy….but it doesn’t sound as if Whiteside is too crazy about dealing with him either.

I know there has been one altercation at the Knox County Jail here in Galesburg involving Sheley . It was reported a guy was hassling him, so Sheley got the screws out of a bar on the wall and attacked the guy with the bar. The screws were found in his pocket. IIRC, the fight was stopped before anyone was hurt. There was another incident at the jail involving Sheley, but because of the gag order, no information has been released about it. The Whiteside Sheriff deputy and another man take a seat right behind me. I turned and asked him if he came down to check Sheley out, he said, ”yeah”.

Another group of people come in the courtroom that I haven’t seen before, there are seven or eight of them. ( I didn't actually count) One of Ronald Randall’s sisters said they were family of some of the victims from Rock Falls, she had seen them at a “victims meeting” in Whiteside County, but wasn’t sure whose relatives they are. The four victims Sheley has been indicted for killing in Rock Falls were 2 men ages 25 and 29, a woman age 20 and her 2 year old son. One of the women speaks with Shirley Pringle, she must be the victims advocate for Whiteside County. I also notice the Whiteside County States Attorney, Gary Spencer is sitting behind me. I'm sure everyone wants to know how this trial will proceed.

The counsel for both sides are taking their places (prosecution has an extra man today from the Attorney General's office) and 3 members of accredited press are in court today.

Sheley is brought into the courtroom fully shackled and accompanied by his "entourage" of Sheriff's personnel. Sheley takes a good look around the courtroom but doesn’t acknowledge his “supporter”. I did find out she is a local girl who spent some time in Knox County jail and got to know Sheley. She is a small girl and sitting in the back row, he may not have seen her. As far as I know Nicholas Sheley is married, so I don’t know what is up with this new “friend”. The only other person I have seen in court “for” Sheley was his ex-wife, back on August 8, she was not there to support him, but to hold him accountable for the confusion and fear he has brought into their children’s lives. You can read more about that encounter here.
(I also found a link to an article by Susan Kaufman of the Galesburg Register- Mail, She was able to find Sheley's ex-wife and further interview her after the confrontation. You can read that article here. )

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart enters the courtroom and court is in session. For the record he recognizes seated at the defense table are Court Appointed co-counsel, Jeremy Karlin; Public Defender, James Harrell and of course Nicholas Sheley. At the prosecution table is Knox County States Attorney, John Pepmeyer; Assistant Attorney General, Michael Atterberry; Assistant Attorney General, Steve Plazibat; and another attorney from the Attorney Generals office, sorry I didn't get his name, he has spelled it in court three times now and I still can't catch it, lol, it starts El_ _ _.

Judge Stewart says that earlier this fall he ruled there was bona fide doubt in regards to the defendants fitness and Dr. Terry Killian was appointed by the court to conduct the fitness evaluation. Now that those results are in, he would like to hear from both sides.

Michael Atterberry starts off by saying the issue of bona fide doubt was raised by the defense attorneys this fall. Based on the court-ordered fitness evaluation conducted by Dr. Terry Killian, dated November 21, 2008, the peoples opinion is there is no bona fide doubt to stand trial.

Jeremy Karlin says that the defense concurs there is no bona fide doubt to stand trial. He continues, if the court agrees, we need to visit Sheley's motion. (Sheley submitted a handwritten motion dated September 19 that was sealed by the court until Sheley's fitness was determined.)

Judge Stewart then rules that he finds no bona fide doubt to stand trial, because of his filing of the motion, the court asks Sheley if he wishes to proceed. Sheley says yes.

This is the point that Shirley Pringle saves me! My pen quit working! Normally I have more than one, but today I didn't grab an extra because this pen was full of ink!! I asked Shirley if she had an extra pen and she didn't...but she was so kind ...she gave me hers anyway and told me to keep it. I can't tell you how much I appreciate her kindness !!!! Merry Christmas Shirley, and all the best to you for 2009!

Karlin tells the court that Sheley gave the defense a copy of the handwritten motion. They do have a response, but have waited to file it until Sheley renews his motion.

Judge Stewart says that the written motion sets forth a couple of issues:

  • Whether to hire private counsel or represent self.
  • Claim of conflict of interest with current attorneys, based on different theories of defense.
  • Claim of ineffective counsel, motions and procedures applied against his wishes.

Stewart continues that he will allow the state 21 days to file their response, because the motion was sealed when entered with the court, the state hasn't been able to review it.

Jeremy Karlin tells the court that defense counsel has a response to Sheley's motion, but due to the ineffective counsel issue, they will need to revise it and will take the extra time as well. My notes get a little confusing here because next I have: In response to Sheley's motion, Sheley is unable to intelligently waive his right to counsel and with regard to Indiana v. Edwards, Mr. Sheley suffers from a serious mental condition and is not competent to represent himself. This conclusion is based on an independent evaluation conducted by Dr. Robert M. Hanlon, a clinical neuropsychologist in Chicago and assistant professor at Northwestern University. Dr. Hanlon's evaluation has been filed with the court as a sealed exhibit. I don't know, perhaps they need more time to change wording???? Whatever, because the state gets the time, it doesn't hurt for the defense to wait to submit their response as well.

States Attorney John Pepmeyer tells the court that the state wants to know what is the true relief that Sheley seeks:

  • conflict of interest ?
  • ineffective counsel ?
  • to represent self ?

I'm sorry, my notes show that Judge Stewart made a statement here, but I didn't get it down. Based on the next response from the state I think he said all issues are relevant.

Michael Atterberry says the state will respond on all 3 issues. Atterberry also says that the neuropsychological issues need to be determined , if factual.

Judge Stewart then referring to Indiana v. Edwards, a June 2008 Supreme Court decision that found the standard for finding a person fit to stand trial is not as high as the standard for allowing a defendant to represent himself, said, "There is no procedure, protocal or policy on how to do this." Stewart called the matter "unchartered ground and the court has to invent procedure when there is not precedent."

Stewart also said that the court could have additional counsel appointed to present case law to Sheley so he can make a decision about representing himself without his perceived conflicting interests of his attorneys. When asked if he would like an additional lawyer appointed, Sheley said, "I would." Stewart said the additional counsel would also have to be capital litigation qualified. He also stated the Illinois Supreme Court has ruled there must be two attorneys appointed to a death penalty case (when defendant is indigent) but he doesn't think there is a limit to the number of court appointed attorneys.

Michael Atterberry asks the court if needed could they have more than 21 days to respond to Sheley's motion. There is a conflict they need to research where Sheley's motion is to remove counsel and the defense motion is to show that Sheley is not able to make this decision.

Steve Plazibat recommends 45 days to respond. Judge Stewart says he will give 30 days. The response from both parties will be due January 23. The Judge says that the case management hearing scheduled for December 31 is a statutory requirement.

I can hear the rumbling of Sheley's voice talking to defense counsel. James Harrell says that Sheley has a couple questions, he wants to know if he can have copies of the transcripts for today's hearing. Sheley also wants this delay charged to the state. The judge says no, the delay is on the defense motion. I think he ok'd the transcripts though.

Steve Plazibat wants to cancel the case management hearing for Dec. 31 because of the representation issue. Judge Stewart says no, it is a statutory hearing and must be held. He also scheduled a case management hearing for January 30 at 1:30. He said representation on discovery is given to this defense.

Court is recessed.



Sphere: Related Content

Friday, December 19, 2008

Lawyers believe Sheley fit for trial.

UPDATE 12/24/2008
First, I want to wish all readers of katfish.... ponders a happy holiday season, however you celebrate...Christmas, Hanukka, Kawanzaa,..?...and my wish for you all is to have a blessed and prosperous year in 2009.
Second, I want to apologize for not getting my entry posted from Sheley's fitness hearing yet. My personal life has been quite busy the last few days....I thought I'd be able to get the entry posted right after the hearing but t'was not to be. I have it about half way done (stealing a moment here and there) I have about 30 people coming in 3 hours...eeekkk...my hope is to complete the entry tonight after they leave. Santa...help me...I have cookies and milk! LOL
The hearing was quite interesting and I have a lot to say....Sheley was found fit to stand trial, but the issue of him representing himself wasn't resolved. 8-(
katfish


Below is an article as it appeared in The Register-Mail on Thursday, December 18. My thoughts follow Susan's article.

By SUSAN KAUFMAN
The Register-Mail
GALESBURG —
The attorneys for Nicholas Sheley don’t doubt their client’s fitness to stand trial.
In a notice filed Tuesday in Knox County Circuit Court, attorneys Jim Harrell and Jeremy Karlin wrote their decision was based on two evaluations of Sheley — a court ordered evaluation conducted by Dr. Terry Killian, and an unspecified independent evaluation.

The evaluations were ordered to determine Sheley’s competency to stand trial and possibly represent himself. A hearing is scheduled Monday to determine if Sheley will be able to fire his attorneys and represent himself — a desire he has expressed in previous hearings.

A gag order remains in effect until Sheley’s competency is determined.
Sheley faces the death penalty in Knox County if convicted of the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall. Sheley also is charged with killing seven other people in two states.
A case management hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 31.

katfish here:

The United States Supreme Court issued a decision on a case, Indiana v. Edwards, on June 19, 2008. In a 7-2 opinion, the Court held that the Constitution does not forbid states from insisting upon representation for those competent to stand trial but who suffer from severe mental illness to the point where they are not competent to conduct trial proceedings by themselves.

In order to be found competent to stand trial, it must be determined that a defendant has the ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him or to assist in his defense, or both. He must also have the ability to knowingly and intelligently appreciate his right to legal representation in a trial and appreciate the right to wave that right.

Because of Indiana v. Edwards, that criteria is expanded when the defendant wishes to represent himself. The person doing the evaluation, in this case Dr. Terry Killian, M.D., should address the defendant's ability for:

  • Reviewing voluminous discovery in written, audio, and visual format
  • Organizing this discovery in a meaningful way
  • Ability to think coherently, objectively and without delusions
  • Ability to maintain temper
  • Ability to recount relevant facts
  • Ability to understand courtroom developments
  • Ability to maintain focus for hours at a time
  • Ability to formulate and express thoughts in a coherent and logical manner both verbally and in written form
  • Proper motivation to represent himself
  • Cognition, perception, concentration and information processing
  • Ability to think on one's feet

The criteria I noted above are a "cliff notes" version of the Fitness Order issued by Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart on October 27. The first page of the fitness order addresses the competency to stand trial and the second page addresses the defendant's ability to represent himself and instruction if defendant is not fit to stand trial. You can download or print these documents for free at DocStoc, just follow the links I embeded above.

As Susan stated in her article, since Sheley's attorneys have filed notice with the court that they don't doubt their client's fitness to stand trial, Monday's hearing will be about Sheley's motion to represent himself. It's not my call but I think he would be wise to keep his attorneys....kind of like a doctor...you might not like them but at least they know what they're doing.

Sphere: Related Content

Monday, December 15, 2008

Fitness Hearing Scheduled in Nicholas Sheley Case.

A hearing on defendant's motion for determination of bona fide doubt is scheduled for Dec. 22 at 1:00 p.m. I plan on attending the hearing and will report what happens as soon as possible after.

Nicholas Sheley, a 29 year old Sterling, IL man is accused of a two-state killing spree that left eight people dead, in late June.
Sheley is being held in Galesburg, IL on a $10 million bond where he is charged in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg. If convicted, Sheley will face the death penalty.

At a hearing Sept. 19, Sheley told the court he wanted to fire his attorneys, James Harrell and Jeremy Karlin, and represent himself. He accused the pair of “sophisticated fast-lawyer talk” and said they were not adhering to his wishes for a speedy trial and his wishes were being “blown off as unimportant.”

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart said Sheley must undergo a fitness hearing to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, competent to waive his right to counsel and competent to represent himself before he is permitted to fire his attorneys and represent himself.

Hopefully this hearing will shed some light on how this trial will proceed. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

KTLA Showing a Short Clip of Opening Statements In Spector Retrial

The retrial of Phil Spector started a month ago, but you certainly wouldn't know it based on news reports or lack thereof. I won't go into a rant about that, instead I'll focus on what is out there this week.

As I have mentioned before, Sprocket at Trials and Tribulations has been attending the retrial and blogging about her experiences there. She mentioned in her entry for yesterday, December 1, (day 11 of testimony) that Harriet Ryan of the LA times had attended court for a bit in the afternoon session.

Ms. Ryan did an interesting piece on the trial. I found her article here on ktla.com. More on her article in a bit, what really caught my eye was a less than 2 minute clip from opening statements on the same page as Ms. Ryan's article. Sprocket reported early on there was a pool camera in court for opening statements but this is the first I have seen of them.
I WANT MORE! Alan Jackson is so riveting and I would love to see Truc Do (prosecution co-council) in action as well. Will we get the opening statements in 2 minute increments? I wish I knew, of course I'll report if I find it anywhere. Please let me know if any of you find something as well. OK?

Back to Harriet Ryan's article, while she attended court yesterday and posted the article yesterday, it had nothing about yesterday's testimony in it. The article focuses on Spector's defense strategy this time around. Rather than try to portray Spector as a gracious and generous eccentric as the defense did in round one, Doran Weinberg paints a much different picture of Spector. Weinberg goes so far as to describe Spector as a gun-obsessed boor with a mouth filthier than a truck stop restroom and mood swings as sharp and scary as a dagger. Whew!
The point of this is to show that Spector pulls guns on everyone, not just women. The approach, his lawyer says, is the only way to combat what the defense considers the most damning evidence against Spector in the fatal 2003 shooting of actress Lana Clarkson: the testimony of five women who say he terrorized them with guns under similar circumstances. Whatever.

IMO, The testimony of Adriano De Souza (Spector’s alternate driver on February 2nd, 2003) is the most damning as it is pretty much a confession of sorts. I think the legal term is an "Excited Utterance". De Souza's testimony ended yesterday. My impression from Sprocket's report is that De Souza held up pretty well even though Weinberg did his best to discredit him. We'll have to wait and see how this jury perceives it all. There is still a long way to go and at the rate it's going this trial will probably last as long as round one.

One last thought I wanted to share. Beth Karas of InSession (CTV) has attended the trial a few days in an unofficial capacity. Beth did call in a report to Jamie Floyd of Best Defense and I thought it interesting she reported Dr. Michael Baden won't be back for this trial. Do you think his reputation couldn't withstand another "aha" moment or does Phil just not have enough money this time around? Probably both! Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING DEAR READERS !

I'M THANKFUL TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHERE DIVERSITY ABOUNDS AND WE ARE FREE TO BE JUST WHO WE ARE. MANY THANKS TO THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT AND THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO FIGHT SO WE CAN ENJOY THESE RIGHTS. GOD BLESS!

Photobucket Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Motions and Orders in case against Nicholas Sheley

I was able to get some of the motions and orders that have been filed in the case of IL v. Nicholas T. Sheley. I was happy to see that I did a pretty good job of getting down most of the information, it's more meaningful to see the actual documents with the dialogue though IMO. Now my challenge is to get them to you. I'll be honest, this is a learning curve for me....any computer skills I possess are self taught. Of course nothing is as easy as you would hope. Here is where I'm at on this:
When I scan the documents onto my computer they upload as jpg.files. Docstoc (a document holding site) doesn't accept jpg file format so I had to teach myself how to convert a jpg file into a pdf file. I used a free trial on Adobe to do it. I really need some feedback about this. This post will be a test. If I get good feedback I will purchase Adobe to do the rest. I don't want to spend the money if there isn't interest or if it's too hard for you all to access them. I haven't figured out how to upload a multi-page document as a single file (believe me, I have tried LOL). Click here for the link. As I said before, I need to hear from you people if you want to see more of the motions and orders from the court cases I follow. If you don't want to post a comment (anonymous posting welcome) you can e-mail me from my profile page (put Sheley in the subject line). Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Return of Subpoena Hearing in Nicholas Sheley Trial

Yesterday, November 19, I attended another return of subpoena hearing in the Nicholas Sheley case. Sheley 29, is accused of killing eight people in a two-state killing spree last June. Knox County, IL gets the first crack at trying Sheley in connection to the killing spree. Sheley is facing 17 counts for the death of Ronald Randall, 65, in Galesburg, IL. If convicted Sheley will face the death penalty.

I waited to post this entry until I could get copies of the motions and orders that were entered yesterday. Unfortunately, when I went to the courthouse this morning I was told the court reporter still had the paperwork, so I wouldn't be able to get copies. I was told to check tomorrow. I was a little lost taking notes yesterday because there was a lot of back and forth between the attorneys and the judge referencing the motions. I will do the best I can without them for now. If I'm able to go to town tomorrow, I will try again. I will post them on DocStock or another one of those document holding sites and post a link if I'm able to get them.

It's 9:45 a.m. when I arrive at the Knox County courthouse for the 10 a.m. hearing. When I get to the door of the courthouse I notice a Sheriff's patrol car pulling up with two unmarked cars behind it. This looks like it might be Sheley. I'm a little surprised because he didn't attend the last return of subpoena hearing(it took about 5 minutes). Perhaps there will be more to the hearing today than just return of subpoenas. I go through security and make my way up the steps to the second floor courtroom.

When I reach the top of the stairway I'm stopped by security and told I have to wait a moment. They must be transferring prisoners. This is a very old building (built in 1882-1884) and there is only one elevator and the stairway winds around the elevator shaft. It takes just a moment before I hear the doors to the elevator open and out comes Nicholas Sheley with his normal entourage of Sheriff's personnel. Once Sheley was taken into a room off of the courtroom I was allowed to pass.

When I get to the double doors of the courtroom, I see there aren't many people in the the courtroom even though there seems to be a hearing going on. I take a seat in the press section right behind a local reporter and mouth a hello to one of Ronald Randall's sisters seated over on the prosecution side of the gallery. This is a hearing to revoke the probation of a sex offender. Part of the terms of his probation was to abstain from drinking alcohol. A probation officer was testifying, followed by a substance abuse counselor. To my surprise, even though there was testimony that this young man had violated his probation by drinking and hadn't finished a treatment program, his probation wasn't revoked. I don't know the circumstances of this case so I'll reserve judgement. During the testimony, one of Sheley's defense team, Jeremy Karlin, sits in my row along with girl who looks like she could be his sister and the Public Defender's administrative assistant. The attorney looks at the clock several times, I wonder to myself if he has another appointment.

A 5 minute recess is called. The reporter I'm sitting behind turns and asks how much time I have put into my last entry, "Sheley's trail of terror. I laugh and tell her hours! I tell her part of the reason it took so long was because I tried to only include information that was reported in more than one place. She said there was one thing in my entry that may not be accurate, it has not been officially confirmed that the woman victim in Rock Falls (Kilynna Blake,20) was pregnant. I really appreciate her telling me this because I'm trying to be as accurate as possible in my reporting. If any of Kilynna's family or friends have read this, please accept my apologies. I hope reading this didn't cause any additional stress for you. I will correct the entry when I get home.


At 10:25 a.m. the Ninth Circuit Court Judge James Stewart calls court to order in the Sheley case. He tells the bailiff to have Sheley brought in. A door to my left opens and I can hear the clickety clank of Sheley coming in fully shackled with his arms full of a shuffle of paperwork. He looks pretty much the same as he did at the last hearing(Halloween) except his head is shaved close again. Usually Sheley takes a good look around the gallery before sitting, but today he just sits down. I have yet to see anyone in court on his behalf, other than his attorneys and he wants to fire them and defend himself. We'll just have to wait and see if this happens.

Judge Stewart acknowledges for the record that at the defense table is Public Defender James Harrell, co-counsel Jeremy Karlin and Sheley. At the table for the state is States Attorney John Pepmeyer, Illinois Assistant Attorney General Micheal Atterberry and Steve Plazibat, another lawyer from the Attorney Generals office.The Attorney Generals office was asked to assist with Sheley's case by Knox and Whiteside Counties.

Atterberry starts things off by telling the court the state has a supplemental motion for authorization to proceed with some DNA testing. He goes on to say they have 2 subpoenas for 417 (DNA) materials, but have reason to believe they have been returned to court.

Pepmeyer wants to put something on the record with respect to the Missouri lab supplying their answer to discovery.

Harrell says something I didn't catch ( he has a little habit of talking down to the desk, I swear it's not me.LOL)
Karlin says he has a motion for discovery.

Atterberry's response to the motion is that the people were notified by the Rockford crime lab that they had stopped testing because it may be necessary to consume all of some evidence. He asks the court to authorize the defense expert to observe the procedure. ( Judge must approve expenditures that are charged to the Capital Litigation fund.)

Karlin shoots back there seems to be some discrepancy. He goes on to say that Atterberry just said the evidence "may" be consumed and the motion says "shall". (OK, this won't be a 5 minute hearing!) Karlin goes on to say, they don't know the guidelines of labs for these type of notifications. Until their expert is able to see the 417 material they would not be able to conclude there is or isn't enough material to be divided. For example, there could be a large red/brown stain or just a nanogram which isn't visible to the naked eye. He says that even though Sheley has expressed his desire for the testing to move forward, the defense asks for a compromise, that the lab not be permitted to test until the expert is present.

Atterberry says the state is in agreement with that, but, if the defense expert is there and there is a disagreement they should turn to the court for guidance.

Judge Stewart grants the motion and says this should be obtained in a written order within 7 days.

Karlin says discovery in regard to ???? oops I missed it

Atterberry says the people's proposal, is a good use of the court's time, counsel will receive 417 material and if there is additional material they will supply it as it comes. Therefore the state asks not to deal with this motion until the defense sees the 417 and has a chance to go over it.

Karlin responds if the state is asking for a continuance, it's on their motion. It appears to him this is not really an objection to the motion but just testing to see if the defense really wants the discovery.

Atterberry says they are not asking for a continuance, another hearing can be scheduled for this discovery.
Judge Stewart asks the state to explain their objections to the motion. Atterberry says they will just take the objections in the order they are on the motion:
  1. ISP Master Command QNA Manual - Atterberry states the request for the entire manual is overly broad and cumbersome and requests information that isn't relevant to this case. He says something about page 3 of the motion (sure wishing I had a copy of these motions) the people are complying to all protocol, which is the same quality standards for the entire state. Atterberry continues the state has no problem with providing manuals that are relevant to this case. Karlin confirms for the record the state's objections is the motion is overly broad, cumbersome, and immaterial.
  2. Atterberry says the second request is also overly broad but there is no objection because the state has already substantially complied and will continue to do so.
  3. Atterberry says the state does object to the material and item C. A job description of everyone in the chain of custody is not relevant. and...
  4. 3H subsection 5 is not material or relevant to have an organizational chart for each lab.

Karlin replies the court would have been better served with an earlier response so they could have had the expert here. The intent of the motion is not to have the entire chain of custody, just from the lab. They want to be assured they have all the standard material. The reason they want an organizational chart is so they can determine who is in charge in the chain of command if there are any disputes. This is information that may lead to other information down the road. Defense is not looking for home addresses, etc....and they argue it is not over broad. They don't want the resume' of the truck driver who takes the material from the police to the lab, however; they do want the resume of the crime scene technician.

Atterberry says the Illinois Supreme Court is clear about 417 discretionary ex closures must show materiality.

Judge Stewart rules request is overly broad, requests should be made for manuals as specifically needed. 3 C. modification - denies request of curriculum other than that required by the Supreme Court. Chain of custody will be disclosed and if an organizational chart already exists he has no problem with that.

Karlin confirms the judges ruling for the record and asks for the table of contents to the manual.

Atterberry objects as this is more than the Supreme Court allows.

Karlin says 417 rule provides a minimum, not a ceiling.

Stewart says the State Police manual has protocols that have no relevance and defense must specify what it needs. With that, Stewart moves on to return of subpoenas, he asks the defense to make a record to what the defense has received. He points to a large stack of envelopes on the court reporters desk and says it's all there and there is some for the state too.

Harrell has another discovery issue, he wants to make record of what DNA the state still has to supply. He adds he hasn't received anything from the state about the "incident" at the jail but understands other clients of his at the jail have been questioned and is worried this may create a conflict of interest for him with his clients.

My notes don't say what the judges response was. I was focusing on Sheley at this point, trying to see if he was following all this. He has remained quiet throughout the hearing today and even seems a little aloof, makes me wonder if he is taking medication, he's not drowsing, just seems a little disconnected.

Pepmeyer says that all of the consumptive DNA testing is completed at the Morton lab, inclusive of all, except that found last week. The state has received all from the Rockford lab except the potential consumptive material mentioned earlier.

The judge orders that within 7 days. At 10:56 a. m. Stewart says the court will recess and reconvene in thirty minutes so counsel from both sides can go through the subpoenaed information that has come in.

Whew, this is taking a lot longer than I expected. I need some coffee. I head out of the courthouse to see if I can find some java. Ronald Randall's sisters were outside having a smoke so I stopped to talk for a moment. One of the sisters tells me that her brothers truck was a dark blue almost black instead of the dark gray that has been reported, she says it's a small thing but it bugs her because it's not accurate. I assure her I will change my entry....little things like that bug me too.

I got a parking spot right in front this morning and don't want to lose it, so I just stop and grab my purse before I head off on foot to find some coffee. The first place I saw with coffee was the Coney Island. This little restaurant has been in this spot for at least 50 years and mmmm you haven't had a hot dog until you have one of these. Since I don't have cash on me, I'm forced to order a couple dogs so I can use my debit card. LOL I couldn't have planned that better! I eat my coney dogs and head back to the courthouse.

Court resumes at 11:40 a.m.

Pepmeyer says that the Rockford crime lab complied with the 417.

Karlin agrees they received responses but doesn't agree at this point they are in full compliance.

Karlin tells the court over 60 media organizations complied with the request to submit news clippings relating to coverage of Sheley. (he named them all but I think I'll save us both from that)Four of those sent replies that information could be found on the organizations’ web sites. Over 30 news agencies had not responded to the subpoenas as of Wednesday. Two agencies filed motions to quash the subpoenas.

Judge Stewart asks Pepmeyer if he has revised the order that the court had requested changes on. Pepmeyer says no but it can be finished shortly. Stewart says he will recess the court now but he wants the order signed today so he will reconvene at 1:30 and wants both sides here.

Court went back on the record at 1:39 p.m. Everyone is back except Jeremy Karlin from the defense.

Pepmeyer submits the revised order of contributing delay. Harrell looks it over and approves it.

The court also received two notices of communication and a notice of disclosure regarding Dr. Terry Killian, the court-appointed fitness expert evaluating Sheley’s competency to stand trial and possibly represent himself. Killian has until Nov. 26 to submit his opinion as to whether Sheley has any mental or physical disability that would impair his ability to stand trial. Killian also must determine whether Sheley is able to review and organize discovery documents, think coherently and maintain focus for several hours at a time.

Sheley’s fitness must be established to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, competent to waive his right to counsel and competent to represent himself before he is permitted to fire his attorneys and represent himself.

The next hearing will be a case management hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Dec. 31.

Galesburg.com

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sheley's " Trail of Terror "entry is completed

I finished the Sheley's "Trail of Terror"entry (read below)the other day, but just realized it didn't post as a new entry even though I changed the date. This is truly the stuff that nightmares are made of ! As I stated before this is not evidence in the case, it is a compilation of news coverage about this case....from everywhere I could think of.
I plan on attending the return of subpoena hearing on November 19. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sheley's Trail of Terror

Final Update:
November 10
I thought I had gathered as much as I could about this killing spree, but I came across an article on STLtoday.com that was posted the day after charges were filed against Nicholas T. Sheley for the deaths of Tom and Jill Estes in Festus, MO. (suburb of St. Louis). The article is titled "Spree killer's timeline here". I will incorporate as much of it as possible into this timeline. I embedded the link in the title above if you want to see it all. I also have a few things to add to step #9 on this timeline, and lastly, I will add a little commentary about the information gathered while compiling this timeline at the end. I try to present my entries in a manner that leaves it up to the reader to form their own opinions but since this is my blog....my opinions do get sprinkled in.

November 9
I have completed steps 12 through 19. That should finish this entry up!

Original entry: 10/30/08

I plan to attend the trial in Galesburg, IL for the murder of Ronald Randall,65, of Galesburg and blog about it here, I have spent a lot of time reading about the case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley. Sheley is accused of killing eight people in two-states in late June. Most of the information out there is from the beginning of July when Sheley was apprehended.

I remember seeing a report in a weekly paper in Galesburg called "The Zepher", one of the things that jumped out at me about this particular article, was a pdf included called "Sheley's Trail of Terror." I included a sample of the pdf here (map didn't come through too well on the blogger), I suggest you check out the article Nicholas Sheley's Bloody Trail by Mike Kroll, it's well written and informative. The download link for the pdf is located at the top of the story too. You can see the routes taken and what allegedly happened at each spot. What I will do is take each step of the spree from the pdf and enter as much info as I can find about each step. Because there is so much information I will post a couple steps at a time and update each time I add more info. Hopefully that will make it easier for reading...not soo longg.

Please, keep in mind that the information provided is culminated from various news reports and is by no means evidence in the case. I'm anxious to hear what evidence is presented at trial, it sounds like there wasn't much effort to clean up the crime scenes so there should be a lot of evidence. If you know of anything I have missed, please let me know.



1. Push-in strong arm robbery of 90 year old woman in Sterling, IL (June 14)

Authorities allege that Nicholas Sheley, a construction worker in the Sterling area, pushed his way into the elderly woman's home at about 8pm on June 14, 2008. He allegedly forced the woman to write him checks, stole cash and a credit card, as well as cigarettes before leaving her alive.

Sheley was immediately a suspect (victim identified him?) and after a search failed to locate him, a $750,000 warrant was issued on June 23.

Authorities said Sheley spent part of his time after June 14 in Chicago buying drugs; however, according to this AP story, it was about this time that Sheley and his wife,Holly, moved into Holly's mother's trailer in Mount Morris, IL.

Here is an excerpt from that story:

Marcia Frey laid down the law when her daughter and son-in-law, Holly and Nicholas Sheley, moved into her trailer after losing their apartment last month: No alcohol. No drugs.

And for a week, the newlyweds were a model family.

Nicholas took the couple’s young children to the park and swimming every day. He mowed the lawn. He washed dishes without being asked.
“For that one week, I thought that no one could have asked for a better son-in-law,” said Frey.



That began to end when the couple, who were saving for their own house, took their green Cadillac to a car title loan company. Sheley promptly used some of the $1,000 loan to buy alcohol, Frey said.
He turned mean, like he often did when he was drinking or on drugs. He and Holly quarreled, then Sheley stormed out of the house, hopped in the car and took off.


That was June 23.

On July 1, Federal prosecutors charged Sheley with leaving the state to avoid prosecution for the June 14 home invasion.

On August 1, a Whiteside County grand jury indicted Sheley on charges of home invasion, robbery and residential burglary in connection with a June 14 incident during which Sheley entered the Sterling home of 90-year-old Janice Wilson and stole money, checks and her MasterCard, according to the indictment.


2. Robbery and murder of Russell Reed, 93, Sterling (June 23)

At 8a.m. on June 26, family members of Russell Reed became concerned when they noticed that Reed had not checked his mail or picked up his newspaper for 2 days, and that his car was missing.

They called Whiteside County Sheriff's officials, who came to the home and found blood in the kitchen, garage and outside the house.

Sheley's car, an older Cadillac, was found near Reed's home. Deputies sent out an alert asking area law officers to keep an eye out for Reed's car. By 3pm that afternoon police locate Reed's missing car in a residential driveway in Sterling and find Reed's bludgeoned body in the trunk.

Whiteside County Coroner, Joe McDonald said Reed died from blunt force trauma to the head, neck and chest.

On August 1, a Whiteside County grand jury charged Nicholas T. Sheley, 29, with 10 counts of first-degree murder and one count each of home invasion, armed robbery, robbery and residential burglary in connection with the June 23 beating death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling. Prosecutors say Sheley entered Reed’s home and beat him to death using some kind of blunt weapon, then stole Reed’s wallet and checkbook, according to the indictment.

3. Reed’s body stuffed into his car trunk and the car is driven and parked in the driveway of Sheley’s brother’s girl friend in Sterling .(June 23-24)

Two of Sheley's family members, a cousin Eric Smith and brother Joshua Sheley and Josh's girlfriend were charged in connection to Reed's killing.

At a court hearing July 1 in Whiteside County, testimony indicated that Sheley's brother, Josh Sheley 31, allegedly contacted his girlfriend, Jenna B. Henson,20, on June 24 and asked if he could park Reed's 2003 Buick Century in her driveway. He also allegedly told his brother to park the car further back from the street.

Investigators say Henson and the Sheleys drove to Chicago on the June 25 allegedly to dispose of evidence from Reed's slaying. Joshua allegedly told his brother, "he was going to get him out of trouble".

Reed's car with his bludgeoned body in the trunk was found in Henson's driveway on June 26. Henson's house was searched but Nicholas wasn't there. Henson is accused of lying to police officers, allegedly telling them that she didn't know anything about the car in her driveway and that she had not seen Nicholas Sheley in 5 years. Joshua was picked up that night after a traffic stop.

Eric A. Smith, 28, whom investigators say was in contact with Sheley more than once since Reed's body was found was charged with obstructing justice for allegedly driving Sheley around "to get rid of some things," according to Sheriff Roger Schipper. Smith turned himself in the night of the June 27. Several days later investigators found that Smith, a convicted felon, allegedly had a Rohm .22-caliber revolver and cartridges, allegedly stolen by Nicholas Sheley.

Both Eric Smith and Joshua Sheley were on parole at the time of their arrest.

On July 16 a grand jury in Whiteside County handed down an indictment for the three alleged accomplices in the murder of Russell Reed. Eric Smith, 28, of Rock Falls, Joshua J. Sheley, 31, of Rock Falls and Jenna Henson, 20, of Sterling, were charged in connection with helping accused murderer Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, of Sterling, conceal Reed's death.

Eric Smith was charged with one count of being an armed habitual criminal, which carries six to 30 years in prison and two counts of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon which carries three to 14 years in prison. The obstructing justice charge was dropped. Smith remains in Whiteside County jail on a $100,000 bond.

Joshua Sheley was indicted on one count of concealment of a homicidal death, which carries two to five years in prison, and one count of obstructing justice, which carries one to six years in prison. He is in the Whiteside County jail on a $750,000 bond.

Jenna B. Henson, was indicted on two counts of obstructing justice, and faces up to three years in prison. She is free on bond. A pre-trial conference has been set for November 25.

Pre-trial hearings for Smith and J. Sheley were set for October 1; however, I haven't been able to find anything on what happened or if the hearings were held.


4. Sheley steals Lincoln Continental and eludes Dixon police in chase, abandons stolen car in Dixon and steals a red Jeep Cherokee (June 26)

Sheley is accused of ransacking a home in Rock Falls, stealing 2 loaded handguns, a .22 Ruger and a .32 revolver, some cash and miscellaneous items, as well as a 1999 Lincoln Continental. An off duty Rock Falls police officer spotted Sheley in the Lincoln about an hour before it was reported stolen by the owner.

At about 9:45 p.m., Dixon police saw the Lincoln. They chased it to a field, but saw when they reached the car that Sheley had fled. Officers found money and other items taken from the Rock Falls home, but not the guns.

Dixon, Sterling and Amboy Police, Lee and Whiteside Sheriffs officials and Illinois State Police searched all night using dogs and a helicopter, but Sheley wasn't found.

About 7 a.m. on Friday, June 27, Lee County Sheriffs Department received a call about a red Jeep Cherokee that was stolen about 1.5 miles from where the dogs last tracked Sheley. There was 2 guns and some hatchets in the Jeep when it was taken. A pair of muddy jeans were found alongside the road.

5. Sheley drove Jeep to Chicago to sell guns and stolen merchandise and purchase drugs (June 27)

William Monroe, an Assistant Special Agent in charge of the FBI's Chicago field office, said he believed Sheley traveled to buy drugs and sell stolen items in Chicago, where authorities recovered the two stolen handguns from the Rock Falls home.

6. Sheley drove Jeep to Davenport and stops at Rest Stop to telephone his wife
(June 28)

After his trip to Chicago, Sheley drove the Jeep to Iowa. According to an FBI agent in an affidavit, Sheley stopped to call his wife from a rest area pay phone between Davenport and Bettendorf Iowa.

Police say Sheley had previously ditched his own cell phone shortly after the Reed homicide so he couldn't be tracked through it.

Saturday, June 28 was the last day the four Rock Falls victims and the Galesburg victim was seen alive.

7. Sheley drove Jeep to Rock Island where he burglarized Illinois Petroleum and steals their truck (June 28)

Sheley then drove the Jeep to Rock Island where he apparently broke into the Illinois Petroleum facility, where he stole some clothing and the truck he later drove to Galesburg.

Lee County Sheriff John Varga said, after his arrest, Sheley directed police to where the 1999 red Jeep Cherokee was located, which was found in the Quad Cities area.

8. Sheley drove Illinois Petroleum truck to Galesburg exiting I-74 on to Main Street (June 28)

Police believe that Sheley arrived in Galesburg just before 8pm, Saturday June 28 driving the stolen Illinois Petroleum truck.

It's reported that evidence shows Sheley exiting westbound off I-74 at the Main Street exit. Officials have reason to believe that Sheley cruised at least one other parking lot as he searched for a replacement vehicle before he arrived at the car wash. Randall was already busy at his truck when Sheley arrived well before dark and accosted the 65 year old man in plain sight.

9. Sheley drove Illinois Petroleum truck to Southard’s Car Wash on East Main where he kills Ronald Randall and steals his 2007 Chevy pickup (June 28)

Sheley is alleged to have accosted Ronald Randall at the Southard's Car Wash on East Main Street at a little after 8pm Saturday, June 28, as Randall was vacuuming the interior of his dark blue 2007 Chevy Silverado pickup truck. Apparently Randall was leaning into the passenger-side door when Sheley is presumed to have attacked him from behind with a still unidentified blunt object beating Randall about the head and face. Randall was then carried or dragged to the tailgate of his truck and thrown into the truck bed beneath a tarp.

Sheley allegedly left the stolen Illinois Petroleum truck at the car wash. The truck was reported on Sunday, June 29, before the owners even knew it was missing, however Randall had not been reported missing yet so there was no connection made.

When Randall's family reported him missing Monday, June 30, they also told Galesburg Police about the On-Star system built into his missing truck and suggested that it could be used to locate him. At that time they did not suspect foul play. On-Star officials were contacted and subsequently were able to direct St. Louis police to the truck there. By the time the truck was located so too had Randall's body.

Sheley is currently being held in Knox County on a $10 million bond and will be tried in Galesburg first in connection to the alleged killing spree.

On July 28 a Knox County Grand Jury handed up a 17-count bill of indictment for the death of Ronald Randall. The indictment includes 10 counts of first-degree murder — three that state victim Ronald Randall was more than 60 years old and allege his death was the result of exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. If Sheley, 28, of Sterling is convicted of first-degree murder and aggravating factors are found, he could be sentenced to death. Also included in the indictment are two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking and one count armed robbery — all Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison; one count of robbery, a Class 1 felony; and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony.

On September 4, Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer filed the state’s intent to seek the death penalty in the case. Since it is now a capital murder case, Sheley has the right to two attorneys. Jeremy Karlin was appointed to assist Knox County Public Defender Jim Harrell in Sheley’s defense.

At a hearing Sept. 19, Sheley told the court he wanted to fire his attorneys and represent himself. He accused the pair of “sophisticated fast-lawyer talk” and were not adhering to his wishes for a speedy trial and his wishes were being “blown off as unimportant.”

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart said Sheley must undergo a fitness hearing to determine whether he is fit to stand trial, competent to waive his right to counsel and competent to represent himself before he is permitted to fire his attorneys and represent himself.

On Oct. 2, Dr. Terry Killian was appointed to conduct a fitness hearing on Sheley. Killian has until Nov. 2 to submit a written report that includes a diagnosis and explanation of how it was reached; a description of Sheley’s mental or physical disability, if any; and an opinion as to whether and to what extent it impairs Sheley’s ability to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him.

According to Knox County Coroner Mark Thomas, no inquest will be held in the death of Ronald Randall. Randall's permanent death certificate was filed with the Knox County Clerk's office on Nov. 6 with the cause of death listed as blunt force injuries of head. The death was ruled a homicide.

10. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup with Randall’s body in the bed to the rear of the East Main Hy-Vee where he hides Randalls body behind dumpster (June 28)

Sheley is alleged to have driven eastbound on Main Street with Randall in the back of the truck. There is reason to believe that while Randall was mortally injured he was not yet dead when his body was dumped beside the dumpster in back of the East Main Street Hy-Vee. A trail of blood was found leading to and from the Hy-Vee dumpster area. Randall's body was not reported to police until Monday shortly after noon. It had been beside the dumpster approximately 40 hours before police were called, reportedly his body had been seen by Hy-Vee employees Saturday night who dismissed it as that of a drunk and did not investigate further until Monday.

11. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to the adjacent Hy-Vee gas station where he buys cigarettes and then leaves Galesburg heading to Rock Falls

Witnesses as well as other evidence have Sheley driving Randall's pickup truck into the parking lot of the Hy-Vee gas station at about 8:20 p.m. Saturday where he parked beside a gas pump and entered the convenience store to purchase cigarettes. Sheley was wearing bloody clothes from the Illinois Petroleum truck and he had visible blood on his face and neck but this apparently did not seem sufficiently suspicious to cause the gas station employees to take special note of the man or vehicle or call police. Again a trail of blood was found tracing the path of the pickup and puddling where it was briefly parked.
When Sheley drove off minutes later he turned eastbound on Main Street presumably to get back on I-74, he had been in Galesburg less than an hour.


12. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to a Rock Falls apartment where he murders two men, a women and 2-year old child (June 28)
Rock Falls is about an 85 mile drive from Galesburg. Rock Falls is across the Rock River from Sterling (Sheley's stomping grounds), both are in Whiteside County. Police estimate that Sheley was back in Rock Falls sometime after 10 pm on June 28.

At 4 p.m., June 30, the Rock Falls Police Department received a call requesting a welfare check at an apartment on Ave. A. Inside the apartment, police find the bodies of two men, a woman and a child. According to police, Sheley, who is associated with one of the victims, is "a person of interest" in the quadruple homicide.

They all died of multiple blunt force trauma to the head. It's likely they died late Saturday, June 28 or early Sunday, June 29.

Sheley allegedly attacked and beat to death the two men, (Kenneth Ulve Jr., 25 and Brock Branson, 29), a woman (Kilynna Blake, 20) and Blake's two year old son (Dayan Blake)in the apartment shared by the four. Branson met Blake in Cedar City, Utah and brought her and her son to live with him in Rock Falls. They were engaged to be married.

Speculation is that Sheley went back to Rock Falls to confront Branson, who had previously had a relationship with Sheley's wife, Holly. It's reported that Holly and Sheley had dated for 5 or 6 years and, despite a history of domestic violence between them, had married in May of this year.

A different report cites Illinois State Police Region Two Commander, Mark Maton as saying Sheley was aquainted with both male victims.

I also remember seeing a report on the local news ( I couldn't find it again) with the father of one of the male victims (can't remember which one) , he said he was certain his son didn't know Sheley before the incident. He said they had spoke of Sheley after the home invasion and the death of Russell Reed.

During the investigation, described by the authorities as aggressive and very thorough, that lasted nearly 3 months, very few details have been released about this case.

On September 18, Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Whiteside County State’s Attorney Gary Spencer announced a Whiteside County grand jury has indicted Nicholas Sheley for four murders in Rock Falls on June 28, 2008.

The indictment consists of 15 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Kilynna L. Blake, 20, Dayan K. Blake, 2, Brock A. Branson, 29, and Kenneth R. Ulve, 25. Three of the 15 counts allege that one of the victims was younger than 12 years and his death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. Spencer has 120 days after arraignment to file an order to seek the death penalty. Bond in Whiteside County has been set at $100,000,000.

It's reported that victim, Kenneth Ulve's, half-sister, Kendra Kruse, said she hopes the indictment of Sheley in connection with the slayings means that her family can finally find out exactly what happened. Kruse said it has been difficult for her family to go through the past several months with so little information about what happened to Ulve.

13. Sheley drove the Chevy pickup to Festus, MO searching for ex-penpal (June
28)

When Sheley left Rock Falls late Saturday night he was en route to Festus, Mo. Attempting to locate a woman with whom he had developed a penpal relationship with while he was in jail.

Teri Engel met Sheley through a group of Jefferson College students. She was taking courses there during her senior year at Festus High School. She said Sheley wasn’t a college student, but may have lived in the area. They lost touch, but friends told her he got in trouble for drugs.

Had Engel known Sheley was violent, she said, she wouldn’t have written to him. She thought he was in prison for drugs. However, drugs were only part of it. Sheley served time for aggravated robbery and other convictions. He was charged with beating his ex-wife unconscious, court records show.

But his letters told a different story. Some rambled for hundreds of pages, Engel recalled. Some reflected on astrology, his love for his children, his desire to change his life and his admiration for Engel’s former work with the developmentally disabled.

The two occassionally talked by phone after his release. Even though their relationship was never romantic, Teri Engel said that he got upset if she didn’t write him back or answer his calls.

The two last spoke 2 years ago when Sheley called Engel around 1 a.m. to wish her a Merry Christmas. Engel said she cussed him out for calling so late and hung up. That was the last she heard from him....but....he didn't forget her.

14. Sheley arrives in Festus, MO and unsuccessfully searches for woman (June 29)

Around noon on June 29, Engel’s nephew, Keifer Meyer, 15, answered a knock on his door. “He asked if Teri lived here, and I said, ‘No,’ and then he said, ‘Are you sure?’ and recited our address and phone number,” Keifer said.

Keifer said Sheley was driving a dark Silverado — the vehicle he is charged with stealing after allegedly murdering its owner in Galesburg, Ill.

He asked to see a picture of Engel. Her nephew said he didn’t have one, but told Sheley she worked at Lowe’s in Festus.

Sheley was next seen walking in Sunset Park in Festus at 12:15 p.m.. At 12:25 Sheley makes a phone call from Champions Merchantile on Collins Drive.

At about 12:44 Sheley was at Lowes probing Engel’s coworkers for information. She was at her goddaughter’s birthday party. A coworker called to say someone was looking for her. “He told her he was my penpal, and that’s when I knew it was Nick,” she said. Engel thought it was strange, but had no reason to believe anyone was in danger.

At 1 p.m. Sheley stops in Payless Shoe Store in Festus.

When, Engel heard about Tom and Jill Estes. She went to the Festus police station. Her nephew picked Sheley’s photo out of a lineup, and Engel told them what she could about Sheley. But there wasn’t much to say.

Police said Engel is not considered an accomplice and is lucky to be alive.

Tears well when Engel talks of Tom and Jill Estes. She wonders if Sheley turned on them when he couldn’t find her.

“Maybe if he got what he wanted from me, like revenge for me hanging up on him two years ago, he would have moved on, or if I didn’t write to him at all he wouldn’t have come here,” she said. “I’ll never know why he was looking for me.”

And she doesn’t plan on writing him a letter to find out.

15. Sheley attacks and murders 54 year-old Arkansas couple in Comfort Inn parking lot (June 29)

A couple from Sherwood Arkansas, Tom and Jill Estes (both 54) were visiting Festus that weekend as they attended a graduation ceremony Sunday afternoon and evening. The couple had checked in to the Comfort Inn on Friday and were last seen Sunday when they left the party at around 10:30p.m. to return to their motel room at the Festus Comfort Inn. Speculation is that as the couple took their dogs out when they returned to the motel and had the misfortune of crossing paths with Sheley in the parking lot late that evening.

11:30 p.m. — Truck driver at JB Hunt calls police to report a man parked in a Silverado pickup behind nearby Steak ‘n Shake and trying to enter the trucking building. 11:39 p.m. — Police run check on Illinois plate on the Chevy Silverado; it is not yet reported as stolen.

At a news conference in Festus, police said that a hotel guest found a couple's two small dogs around midnight roaming the parking lot and covered in blood. When police arrived, they found the couple's dogs unharmed, their 2007 Corvette untouched, two pairs of eyeglasses, a pair of earrings and a lot of blood.

Sheley is not believed to have had a prior relationship with the couple, police said.

On July 10, Jefferson County prosecutor Forrest Wegge charged 28-year-old Nicholas Sheley with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of armed criminal action for the deaths of Tom and Jill Estes. Wegge said no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty. "It’s on the table and, quite frankly, it’s at the center of the table," Wegge said.

16. Sheley puts two bodies in back of pickup, drives to gas station 1 1/2 miles away to dump bodies (June 29)

Tom and Jill Estes were brutally beaten in that parking lot and their bodies thrown into the bed of Randall's pickup truck so they could be driven a 1 1/2 miles to be dumped behind a gas station late Sunday, June 29.

St. Louis area police officials say they found the bodies of the Estes at 11:14 am by following yet another of Sheley's blood trails from the Comfort Inn parking lot to the Phillip's 66 gas station.

At 12:19 am. on June 30 Randall's Silverado was caught on video arriving at Walmart. There is video of him buying clothes and finally leaving the Wal-Mart parking lot in the Silverado at 12:44am.

According to court records an off-duty Herculaneum police officer and several employees saw Sheley covered in blood at Wal-Mart. But no one called police.The officer, who joined the force 30 days ago, is embarrassed and upset because he didn't react, said Chief Chris Pigg.

17. Sheley drives pickup back to St. Louis where he abandons it and steals another vehicle (June 30)

Court records also say that Sheley was seen leaving the Silverado in St. Louis sometime between 8:30 to 9:30 am on Monday, June 30.

The stolen truck belonging to Randall, the victim in Galesburg, was recovered the morning of Monday, June 30 at 10:15 am in St. Louis, near an Anheuser-Busch distribution plant, authorities said

Large amounts of blood were later found on the truck's passenger seat and in the truck bed that officials have positively identified to include that of Randall and Sheley and the Estes'. Other physical evidence, including Sheley's fingerprints, and one of Jill Estes sandals, have been processed by forensic technicians in St. Louis where the truck was recovered.

I had seen a report early on that Sheley was spotted at a ballgame in St. Louis on the night of June 30, but frankly I disregarded it because there were a lot of "sightings" reported. The timeline from STLtoday.com shows that at 11 pm on June 30, Sheley borrowed a phone from a baseball fan at Busch Stadium and at 11:25 pm borrowed another cell phone outside the stadium.

18. Sheley is arrested outside of bar in Granite, City, Illinois. (July 1)

During the hunt for Sheley, the St. Louis County Police Department issued a bulletin describing him as an "extremely dangerous" methamphetamine addict. "He has stated to his wife that he has more killing to do," the bulletin said.

Tuesday morning, July 1, police in tactical gear searched a Collinsville, Ill., apartment building for Sheley, but were unable to locate him.

The intense manhunt for the "armed and dangerous" suspect, which included a $25,000 reward, concluded quietly Tuesday night when Nicholas Troy Sheley stepped outside a bar to smoke and was taken into custody by police in the southwest Illinois town of Granite City.

Sheley all but ensured his capture Tuesday when he called his attorney from a Subway restaurant in Granite City.

A person close to the investigation told The Associated Press that the call was the last of multiple phone calls Nicholas Sheley had with the attorney that day. The person -- who spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing -- says the attorney was talking to Sheley at the FBI's direction.

At about 7 p. m., a disheveled Sheley happened into a nearly empty Granite City tavern called Bindy's that is frequented by off-duty police, said Bill Watson, 55, the bar owner.

Sheley looked nervous, disoriented and shaky, Watson said, "not our usual clientele."Two regular customers—Gary Range and Samantha Butler—and bartender Jennifer Lloyd immediately recognized him, said Watson, who also was in the bar. Just before Sheley arrived, they had been watching television coverage of the slayings that featured Sheley's mug shot, Watson said.

Afraid of alerting Sheley that they knew who he was, Range quietly stepped outside and flagged down nearby police officers, who were searching for the suspect, Watson said. Soon after Range returned, Sheley tried to light a cigarette and was sent outside to smoke."That's the first time the smoking law [has] done us any good," Watson said. "He went outside to smoke, and that's when the police caught him."

I haven't heard if these citizens were given the $25,000 reward. They should, IMO! The police were already looking for him in the area because of the calls to his lawyer, but those folks didn't know that. If they hadn't been tipped off, there's no gaurantee the police would have got him otherwise.


19. Sheley is transported from Madison County jail to Knox County Jail (July 3)

In a statement Tuesday, the FBI said all eight victims were killed by "blunt force trauma" to the head. A law-enforcement source said an ax was used in one or more of the homicides, and that method led authorities to begin linking the crimes.

Sheley didn't speak before he was driven by Granite City police to the Madison County Jail in Edwardsville, near Granite City. An afternoon court appearance was held Wednesday, July 2, by video conference, to determine bond issues but, Sheley did not enter a plea.
He was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall. Other charges include aggravated battery, vehicle hijacking and vehicle theft. Bond was set at $1 million.

Knox County officials transported Sheley to the Knox County jail sometime Thursday morning, picking him up from the Madison County jail. His first court appearance in Knox County was at 2 pm Thursday, July 3.

As stated above, Sheley is still being held in the Knox County jail but the bond has increased to $10 million. He is currently awaiting the results of a fitness hearing to determine if he is fit to stand trial, fire his lawyers and represent himself.

As I stated above, I am planning on attending Nicholas Sheley's murder trial in Galesburg, IL if/when it happens. I'm pretty sure he will be found competent to stand trial, although I'm not so sure about him being competent to represent himself. There is a different standard and rightly so.

I compiled all of the information in this timeline, and explored Sheley's criminal history in an entry that I posted at the end of October, in an effort to get a better "feel" for all of the aspects of this case and share what I find with you. I have no connection to any of the victims in this case or to Nicholas Sheley...I guess you can say I have no irons in this fire, except those of a citizen who wants to see justice done. It appears the deaths of Mr. Randall and Tom and Jill Estes were a random choice based on geography.....it could have been anyone of us!

As a true crime junkie, there are some aspects of this case that are different from many of the cases that I follow. This suspect left such a clear and consistent trail of physical evidence at each step of this crime spree, that even without a direct witness to any of the killings, there is, according to police, ample evidence connecting Sheley to each death. Has he gotten away with so much that he fancies himself as "teflon"? Or was he in a drug induced rage? Or does he just not care? All of the above? Someone close to this case told me, "It's not for us to figure out why someone would do something like this, it's for us to figure out what will be done about it!"

I'll leave it at that for now.

resources:

Illinois Attorney General STLtoday.com

Chicago Tribune Sherwood Wire

saukvalley.com

WQAD

Galesburg.com

The Zepher

Rockford WREX

msnbc

cbs

Peoria Journal Star

CNN



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Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween In Court - No Tricks, No Treats






Friday ( October 31), I attended another case management conference in the case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley in Galesburg, IL. Sheley is facing 17 charges in the death of Ronald Randall, 65 of Galesburg. If convicted and aggravating factors are found, Sheley will face the death penalty. After Knox County is done with Sheley, he moves onto Whiteside County to face charges in the death of 5 more people there, and then....down to Missouri to face charges in 2 more deaths.

I'm not much of a "morning person"anyway, but this morning I had to push harder than usual to get myself going. I haven't slept well since I began researching the events leading up to, and a timeline of, the killing spree that took place in June. It is unsettling to go through this sequence of events and exhausting because I have tried to include info that I find from more than 1 source. I don't want to sound as though I'm complaining about the task, at all, it's just my focus has been mostly on the court proceedings in Ronald Randall's case. It's mind boggling how many lives are forever changed or ended and how harsh life can be. I will get back to work on the timeline after I finish this court entry:

When I enter the Knox County courthouse it's about 9:30, the hearing is scheduled to start at 10 am. As I make my way through security I say hello to a friend who is a bailiff and make my way up the wide staircase leading to the second floor. Oh oh, I see some of Ronald Randall's family sitting in some chairs across from the stairwell. That definitely means the courtroom isn't open yet, hope it doesn't mean the hearing is changed. (Halloween is a big deal in katfish land....I have things to get done....before the spooks come.)

After saying hello to Ronald's family, I go to the other end of the hall and peek in the blinds of the courtroom. The court reporter is setting up her stuff but the lights aren't on, so I wait. Sheriff David Clague comes around the staircase and heads up to the third floor. The States Attorney's offices are up there, probably giving them a heads up. When the Sheriff is here, it usually means that Sheley is in the building. As he climbs the stairs I see the lights are on in the courtroom and the court reporter steps out. I ask if it's OK to go in and she says sure.

I let Ronald's family know the courtroom was open and we head in. They sit in the front row and I sit on the aisle in the second row. It doesn't take long and people start coming in. Friends of Ronald go around behind me and sit at the other end of the second row. The Administrative Assistant for the Public Defender, James Harrell comes in with two men in suits, and they sit right behind me. She is wearing jeans and a thermal shirt that says" scary " in spooky lettering. I assume the guys are lawyers because one said he was going to go dressed tonight as an attorney drinking beer. I couldn't resist, I asked him, and how much of a stretch is that? He said tonight?...not much. LOL


Defense Attorney, Jeremy Karlin comes in with his laptop and gets it set up on the defense table. James Harrell sticks his head in the door and motions for Karlin to come in the hall. When they came back in, they go into the "witness" room. I see that the attorneys for the state are in there and two more unfamiliar"suits". I wonder if one of the "suits" is a DNA expert or Dr. Killian, a forensic Psychiatrist appointed by the court to evaluate Sheley's fitness? One of the "suits" is a representative of the Illinois Attorney Generals office, I have seen him in court before but I don't think his appearance has been entered with the court. It didn't take long to find out about the other guy.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart enters the courtroom a little past 10 and calls court to order and acknowledges James Harrell and Jeremy Karlin as attorneys of record for Nicholas Sheley( at least until Sheley's fitness is determined). There are 4 attorneys sitting at the table for the state. First, Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer, to his right Assistant Attorney General Micheal Atterberry, then the 2 gentlemen I mentioned before. It turns out they are both representatives of the Illinois Attorney Generals office as well. One of them even spelled his name twice but I didn't get it or what role they will play in this case.

Judge Stewart instructs a bailiff to have Sheley brought in.
When Sheley is brought in he appears kind of disheveled. His orange jailhouse garb is kind of wrinkled and his shirttail is hanging out. What makes that more noticeable is the white T shirt that hangs about 8-10 inches lower than the over shirt. He has a big jumble of expansion folders and stuffed envelopes in his hands. Being fully shackled he has a little trouble getting himself and the papers settled at the table....someone ( I think Harrell) helps him get sat down with the papers. He takes a good look around the courtroom and then turns to face the court.

Back to Sheley's appearance. It's kind of unusual for him to look disheveled. At the rate his hairstyles change one might even think he's a little pre-occupied with his appearance. On the other hand what else does he have to do? Today his hair is longer and slicked back like a greaser from the sixties. Not that any of this has any bearing on this case....just an observation.

Judge Stewart says that this is a case management conference. He asks the state where they are at on disclosure in accordance with Supreme Court rules.
John Pepmeyer responds the state will continue to provide supplemental discovery as they get it. There are some lab results that are expected within 14 days.
Stewart then turns to the defense. Karlin tells the court that additional requests for discovery have been made.

Judge Stewart asks the defense more specifically about complying with full disclosure and Karlin replies it will take more time. Stewart asks for a time estimate and Karlin cannot give a specific time. ( Local media reports that Sheley's defense has subpoenaed approximately 80 media organizations requesting copies of stories related to coverage of Sheley.)

The Judge then asks the State about submitting aggravating factors in relation to Supreme Court rules on Capital Litigation. John Pepmeyer responds that the State included all of the aggravating factors they intend to seek with their intent to seek the death penalty.

The Judge mentions something about disclosures again. Michael Atterberry reiterates the state is waiting compliance from the lab. There are 3 different labs evaluating evidence but they expect to comply with disclosure with in 14 days.

Things are moving quickly this morning and or I'm just slow (lol). My notes don't say who, but someone mentions there are consumptive DNA tests that aren't done yet.
( Both parties agreed in court on September 26 that the experts would work between themselves to schedule the testing. I had hoped we would hear today that they were done! )
Karlin says something about the expert they hired being a professional and has a schedule to work around. I didn't hear anyone complain about the expert but someone must have said something. Jeesh, not only am I slow today my ears are plugged too! Sorry folks.

Pepmeyer requests that the consumptive testing be done within 30 days.
Stewart says the deadline for the DNA testing will be 60 days.
Karlin then adds the state added additional consumptive tests on Sept. 26.
Atterberry responds they still expect the DNA to be done in 60 days.

Atterberry continues that the state wants to make a record of the information provided to Dr. Killian, to be used in his fitness evaluation of Sheley. They would also ask for a record of correspondence to Dr. Killian, including a record of telephonic and e-mail correspondence and a record of all discovery provided to Dr. Killian.

(An order from Judge Stewart appointing Dr. Killian required a written determination of Sheley's fitness be entered with the court by November 2 ; however, in a closed hearing on Oct. 17, attorneys for both sides agreed to change the wording of the order. The revised order wasn't delivered to Killian until Oct.29. In the revised fitness order, Killian is instructed to include an opinion as to whether Sheley has any mental or physical disability or defect that would impair his ability to think coherently, objectively and without delusions and has the ability to understand courtroom developments.)

Judge Stewart says there is a return of subpoena hearing on November 19. He wants to schedule a case management hearing for December 31, at 10 am.

Karlin says he will call Dr. Killian right after the hearing and kind of motions with his Blackberry type handheld, but then adds, if the call must be recorded it will be more difficult to communicate.

Atterberry says no, when he requested a record of telephonic correspondence he meant a log of calls, not a recording. Karlin asks Stewart if the expected procedure can be put on record.

Judge Stewart says everyone is trying to make a record, but the doctor must comply with the 30 day order. If more time is needed, the doctor needs to come to court and tell why.

Pepmeyer asks if the doctor has a copy of the order. Karlin says the doctor was sent a scanned copy of the order a few days ago, Oct.29.

Atterberry mentions there is additional discovery regarding the incident at the jail this past week, Dr. Killian should be advised of this as well. {{{{WTH ?}}}} (This is the first I have heard of another incident at the jail. Sheley had an altercation in July with another inmate and it was reported. Why is this one a secret?)

Susan Kaufman, of The Register-Mail in Galesburg, reported Sheriff Clague would not say when the incident occurred or provide any details due to the court imposed gag order.

Sheley begins conferring with James Harrell. He isn't loud, but loud enough those who are speaking are hard to hear. I feel for the court reporter today. Harrell puts his finger over the mic in front of them, but you can still hear the rumble of his voice.

Evidently Sheley wants his attorneys to address something in court for the record. (Sheley isn't allowed to address the court until his fitness is determined.) Karlin complies and tells the court that although it was the "cart before the horse here" in regards to the fitness issue, can the defendant request a jury trial. Karlin also mentions Indiana vs. Edwards- a Supreme Court case that requires a higher standard for measuring a dependants competency to be his own lawyer than to stand trial.

Karlin then asks if a different judge will hear the fitness hearing. He thinks the judge said he would do that at an earlier hearing.

Judge Stewart says he doesn't remember saying that, it would not be normal procedure to do so. He asks the court reporter if she can gather the transcripts for review, I think for the r.o.s. hearing on Nov. 19.? I have to restrain myself from saying...no,no,no...on Sept.19, he said he would have the chief judge appoint another judge for an adequacy of counsel hearing...not fitness. Yes, Pepmeyer just backed me up! They still have to check the transcript.

With that Stewart says his order will show the state has complied with disclosure per Supreme Court rule with the exception of labs. Defense unable to confirm disclosures or a date. All consumptive labs due within 60 days. Defense will supply the court with documentation of all communication with Dr. Killian. Court is recessed at 10:35 AM.

Sorry it took so long to post this....when I turned off the porch light on Halloween and headed down to my computer to post this entry, I stepped wrong and messed up my knee. Spent the rest of the weekend with my leg up. I had a Dr. appointment for today with my family doctor, she thinks I may have torn a ligament, but recommends an MRI. I'm not anxious to throw my money at an MRI just yet so I'm going to see an orthopedic. grrrr....
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Killing Spree Suspect Has a Long Criminal History

Nicholas T. Sheley is a 28 year old Sterling, Illinois man accused of a two-state murder spree in late June that left eight people dead.

In Knox County, Sheley is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder, 2 counts of aggravated kidnapping, 2 counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking and 1 count of armed robbery — all Class X felonies punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison; 1 count of robbery, a Class 1 felony; and 1 count of possession of a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony in connection to the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randell, 65, of Galesburg. If convicted, Sheley will face the death penalty. He is being held at the Knox County jail, in Galesburg, IL, on a $10 million dollar bond.

While awaiting the results of a court ordered fitness hearing, this seemed like a good time to look over Sheley's prior criminal history. I'm also working on a time line of the killing spree and the events leading up to it, as well as the current status of each of the cases. I will post the time line in the next couple days. (There is a lot of information out there!)

According to court records:

- In 1997, Sheley was charged with possession of a firearm, a felony, and carrying a gun with an expired firearm owner's identification card, possession of marijuana, possession of alcohol as a minor, and possession of drug paraphernalia, all misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to all charges, and received 1 year in jail and 30 months probation.

- In 1999, Sheley pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, resisting a peace officer, and consumption of alcohol by a minor, all misdemeanors.

He served 90 days in jail.

- In 2000, Sheley was charged with four counts of armed robbery, one count of aggravated robbery, and domestic battery, all felonies.

He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 6 years in prison.
The four armed robbery charges and the domestic battery charge were dismissed.

- In 2003, Sheley was charged with aggravated battery causing great bodily harm, aggravated battery in a public place and escape from a peace officer, all felonies, and criminal damage to government property and disorderly conduct, both misdemeanors.

He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and had to pay $233 in restitution. All other charges were dismissed.

- In 2005, Sheley was charged with unlawful restraint and domestic battery, both misdemeanors; they were dropped because no probable cause was found.

That April, he pleaded guilty to domestic battery and resisting a peace officer, both misdemeanors, and served 30 days in jail.

- In 2006, he was charged with armed home invasion, aggravated battery with a weapon and armed robbery, all felonies, and all in connection with the drug-related murder of Douglas Keefer, 46, of Rock Falls, who was found beaten to death in the backyard of his home the morning of Nov. 26.

The charges were dismissed when a key witness could not be found.

- In 2007, he was charged with home invasion, aggravated discharge of a firearm and possession of a firearm in connection with an armed robbery, all felonies.

He was released on a $250,000 recognizance bond in January.

So...apparently Mr. Sheley not only has an extensive criminal history, he was also out on bond for some pretty serious felonies when this alleged rampage started on June 14.

Police in Sterling came to know Sheley well as his crimes progressed from marijuana possession to domestic battery, then to resisting a peace officer and aggravated battery.

But nothing in his history suggested he was capable of violence of which he is now suspected: killing eight people in two states, from a toddler to a 93-year-old, all by the personalized and brutal method police describe as "blunt force trauma."

"Nothing would have made us suspect that something like this would happen," said Ron Potthoff, chief of police in Sheley's hometown of Sterling, a city of 15,000 about 100 miles west of Chicago. "But...he was becoming more and more noticeable to the officers."

hmmm...

resources:

CNN

CBS NEWS

saukvalley.com




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