Friday, September 12, 2008

Will Nicholas Sheley represent himself in Knox County Case?

Accused spree-killer Nicholas Sheley told Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart he is unhappy with his lawyers during a hearing in Knox County, IL. on Thursday.

Reading from a prepared written statement, Sheley told the court he was concerned about how his case was being handled. “I am not looking for advice or sympathy,” he said. “I have questions in regards to the law and my understanding my rights.”

Sheley said he has been “blown off” by his public defender Jim Harrell and co-counsel Jeremy Karlin. He accused his attorneys of “fast lawyer talk” and said he wants his lawyers to adhere to his request for a speedy trial and not their own wishes. “My lawyers will do anything to continue this. It is their choice not mine."

Sheley asked the court for guidance in three matters: do his attorneys have the legal right to do what they want in this case or does he have a say in decisions; is he allowed his own copies of discovery documents; and should delays such as a fitness hearing be allowed if it interferes with his speedy trial demand.

Sheley argued a fitness hearing was unnecessary. “I am fit. I have knowledge of the charges and consequences. I feel my social abilities are above more than normal,” he said.

Judge Stewart told Sheley he has the right to make decisions on pleas and plea agreements but legal decisions are made by the lawyers. He told Sheley his only options are to hire a private attorney certified by the Capital Litigation Trial Board or represent himself.
Stewart requested Sheley draft a hand-written motion describing how he wants to proceed.
After the court receives the motion, Stewart will schedule a hearing.

This hearing had been scheduled as a status hearing about the defense team's hiring of a DNA expert. The issue of hiring a DNA expert was not decided. Karlin said the defense has found a DNA expert they intend to hire but he isn't available until October 20. The state said the DNA testing has been scheduled and they are ready to proceed.

The state also turned over more discovery documents to the defense on Thursday. There are now over 4,300 paper documents in this case. Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer said another 1,000 pages of documents are in the process of being copied.

When asked after the hearing if he planned to represent himself, Sheley said people would “have to wait and see.”

Sheley faces 17 charges in connection with the bludgeoning death 65-year-old Ronald Randall of Galesburg and faces the death penalty if convicted.

He also is charged with the murders of a Whiteside County man and a husband and wife in Missouri.

Sheley is suspected of killing four people in a Rock Falls apartment but has not been charged in that crime.

I really don't know what to make of all this. I don't for a minute think that Sheley isn't aware of his rights. He is quite familiar with the legal system. Of course he is entitled to a speedy trial and if that is what he wants, that is what he should get. However; it's doubtful that he can afford his own lawyer so he has a big choice to make. I haven't heard of any response from his lawyers. I'll let you know if I do.


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