Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nicholas Sheley will face the death penalty in Galesburg, IL

Today Knox County States Attorney, John Pepmeyer, filed the paper work necessary to seek the death penalty in the case against accused spree-killer Nicholas Sheley. Sheley, 29, is facing 17 counts in connection with the June 28 death of Ronald Randall,65.

I wasn't able to attend today's hearing, but after reading the report in the Galesburg Register-Mail, it sounds as though it was a productive day in court. Because this is now a capital case, Sheley is entitled to two attorneys. Attorney Jeremy Karlin was appointed to assist Public Defender James Harrel in Sheley's defense. It's reported the state turned over it's discovery, consisting of 2,330 documents and 99 CDs, to the defense last Friday.
After Harrel argued for a one week delay to allow Karlin to read all the discovery, Sheley asked to address the court. Sheley told the court he doesn't want a continuance of any kind. He went so far as to say if it is necessary to fire his attorney's then so be it.
The state argued a motion for permission to go ahead with possibly consumptive DNA testing on six items. In order for Sheley's request for a speedy trial to be met, Assistant Attorney General, Michael Atterbury said the testing needs to be completed in a timely manner. Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart ordered the defense to hire a DNA expert as soon as possible to assist and be present with the DNA testing. A hearing is scheduled for next Thursday for a status report of the hiring of a consultant.

A jury trial was tenatively scheduled for October 14. I will attend as much of the trial as possible.

Nicholas Sheley is suspected in the bludgeoning deaths of eight people in both Illinois and Missouri. He has been charged with killing Tom and Jill Estes, 54, in Festus, MO. In Whiteside County, IL a grand jury has handed down a 14 count indictment accusing Sheley of first-degree murder in the death of Russell Reed, 93. While not charged yet, Sheley is also suspected in the deaths of four more in Whiteside County, Kenneth Ulve Jr. 25, Brock Branson 29 and his pregnant fiance, Kilynna Blake 20 and her 2 year old son, Dayan Blake.

Sheley says he is ready to get this ball rolling and so am I. If he really wants to keep things going I would suggest that he NOT fire his attorneys. James Harrell and Jeremy Karlin are the only Capital Litigation Bar members in Knox County. Perhaps he should give them the week they need.This will be the first murder trial that I have attended in person. It's been reported that law enforcement thinks Sheley was only in Galesburg an hour or so....and they have almost 2500 documents and DNA! This should be interesting. Sphere: Related Content


  1. I don't believe your comment about Harrell and Karlin being the only two attorney's on the Capital Litigation Bar is correct. I remember following the Boyd case and Kim Norton and John Rehn were the attorney's appointed to handle that death penalty case.

    In regards to Mr. Sheley wanting to push his trial through, he has a right to a speedy trial and it's up to him to waive that right. If his case isn't set until October, Mr. Karlin has ample time to review the court documents. Mr. Harrell is the one that has a time issue. He not only is handling this time intensive case, he also has the current murder case that he was just appointed to. Does this mean that his other cases will be portioned out to other attorney's?

    If memory serves me, the state pays for attorney's, experts, etc. in a capital case. They should not have any trouble getting the needed experts for the DNA in a timely manner. But that brings another question. Mr. Harrell is currently being paid by the county, will the state pay for his services or reimburse his salary since the majority of his time will be devoted to this case? There will be a mountain of motions to be filed, state documents to be read, alleged crime scenes to visit, investigators to be hired, experts retained, etc. No case is cut and dried and this one is no exception.

  2. Thanks for commenting anon,
    I agree with you that no case is cut and dried. I also believe in the presumption of the court. My point was, if he fires his current attorney how long would it take for someone else to step in.....more than a week?
    I'm sure you are also correct about Karlin having plenty of time to catch up on the case. I heard today he is trying to getting rid of some current cases.
    If I spoke incorrectly about Harrell and Karlin being the only attorneys in Knox County that are qualified to handle a capital case I am sorry. I did read that in the Register-Mail....maybe that's why I quit my subscription...jk. I'm not even aware of another murder trial in Galesburg right now since I am not getting the paper anymore.
    I know that there was a capital litigation fund to assist in capital cases. That seems fair, if Harrell's cases have to be parceled out to other attorneys that Knox County would be reimbursed. I went early to the preliminary hearing for Sheley and Judge Steven Bordner handled some cases via webcam from the jail. Out of approximately a dozen cases, they all but one got the public defender rubber stamp.
    I will do some research about local attorneys, didn't Kim Norton have some problem with her licence this year?
    Thanks again,

  3. Here is a link for the roster for Illinois Capital Litigation bar.
    Harrell and karlin are the only ones listed.
    You are correct that Norton was qualified. I think Rehn was co-council. From what I can google...Kim Norton's licence is under's the link: