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."





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Saturday, October 25, 2008

KTLA will provide limited coverage of Phil Spector's re-trial

November 11

I have noticed a lot of hits looking for coverage of Phil Spector round 2, first let me say welcome to katfish ponders, and second....I don't have any good news. There is no live or taped coverage. I can tell you what I have been doing to get my Spector "fix" so far.

Trials and Tribulations carries Sprocket's " in the courtroom " coverage and that is my first go to place. I then head over to
Juror Thirteen, they have some interesting insights about the case based on Sprocket's coverage and other press, such as Linda Duetch of AP. One thing I really like about Juror Thirteen is they are good at supplying links to other relevant stories that are out there. Another place that has some interesting insight to Phil Spector is mControl blogs. This blog is by Michelle Blaine, assistant for Spector on Febuary 3, 2003. I didn't mention this earlier because it had been some time since she posted there.....but she's back! Very funny lady! MB also created the People vs Spector V2 website. Right now there isn't a lot of action on the forum there, but it is well worth checking the trial progresses there will be more to talk about. There are some knowledgeable and funny posters on there!
Once again if I find any other coverage is out there I will post it. Heck, I'd like to know who has the tapes from opening must be top-secret...noone is fessing up to it. LOL! Please let me know if there are any other places out there discussing this trial.
October 27
Sprocket has posted another update! She reports the agency that inquired about the web cam has pulled out. There will be a pool camera covering opening statements, although it's not clear who will be carrying it. For more detail check out Trial and Tribulations. I will update when I hear anything! Jeesh!
October 27, 2008
I bumped the date up on this post so it will be near the top of the page.
Sprocket, from Trials and Tribulations has been attending the voir dire of the jurors for Phil Spector's re-trial.
In her report this evening about the last day of voir dire, Sprocket reports that Judge Fidler said that the court has received a last minute request to have a "web cam" in the court. There apparently would not be a computer [camera] operator, but that wasn't clear. He does not know the particulars of the request so he can't rule on the request at this time. The details are currently being worked out with Allan Parachini.
There will be a still camera for opening statements. This is apparently a camera on a tripod in the gallery of the court and not mounted on the walls. This would just be for opening statements.
The media organization that made the "web cam" request was not named, nor was the organization that will film opening statements.
Opening statements begin Wednesday.
I'll let you know when I hear anything. Trials and Tribulations is the go-to blog for anything Spector 2. Thanks for the heads up Sprocket!

October 21, 2008
Recently there have been rumblings that KTLA has decided not to cover PS 2.
I have hesitated to report these rumblings here until there was definite confirmation . Unfortunately, While I haven't been able to get actual confirmation from KTLA, I have heard from a reliable source that they have backed out.
If I get confirmation or better yet, good news, I will post it here ASAP.

When word came that no media outlets had applied for access to cover the re-trial of Phil Spector many of us were shocked. Just a year or so ago, the first Phil Spector murder trial was fairly "big news". CourtTV (now InSession) carried all 6 months of the trial.

There was also a strong Internet following, with gavel to gavel live streaming available through several sources. I personally switched to Internet coverage when CTV started cutting off the trial midway through the day (programming changes at the network... grrrr). When just watching by yourself was too frustrating or if you missed a day and needed to catch up, there were plenty of places online to go and discuss the trial, and MANY people did.

In the first trial, Spector, the eccentric music producer who created the famous "Wall of Sound" recording technique, avoided conviction after a six-month trial that ended with a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of finding him guilty. Given that result, regardless of our opinion as to guilt or innocence, many of us who had devoted so much of our time to this quest for justice, took solace in the notion that there would be another trial and again we would be there.....had we been told then that just one year later the re-trial would be viewed as old news....I am certain more would have been done to encourage the media to cover the re-trial.

The 68-year-old music producer is charged with murder for the Feb. 3, 2003, shooting death of 40-year-old Lana Clarkson. Spector and his attorneys have maintained that Clarkson committed suicide in the foyer of Spector's home. (After the first trial, the state said that Spector murdered Lana Clarkson and his defense murdered her character.)

The re-trial got under way with Jury Selection on October 2 and 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court. Three hundred prospective jurors were to report over these two days to weed out those who had personal reasons for not participating and to give questionnaires to prospective jurors to fill out in order to gauge their knowledge of the case and determine whether they have formed any opinions. They are to return October 20 for voie dire (questioning by the attorneys). This trial is expected to take 3 to 4 months.

Sprocket and Donchais, at Trials and Tribulations have been working behind the scenes to facilitate some type of coverage and have reported that Judge Fidler approved local channel KTLA's "TV" application and The Associated Press's "still photographer" application. KTLA requested, "opening statements, portions of testimony, closing arguments, verdict, and sentencing. For whatever reason that the media isn't as interested this time around, some coverage will be better than none. Let's just get this show on the road! There is also a petition that was started on September 18. It's probably too late for the petition to do any good at this point, but it certainly wouldn't hurt anything to add your name if you feel the Spector re-trial deserves more coverage.

At this point KTLA will be the only place to go for coverage, however, trial discussion can be had at many places. Here are the places on the web that I intend to go during this trial:

For" in the courtroom reports " go to Sprockets blog at Trials and Tribulations
For great trial discussion there will be several places to go....
of course the KTLA message boards will be a great spot. You can also find some great discussion at jurorthirteen,they have message boards and chat! And last but not least, there is a forum that was developed specifically to cover the re-trial of Spector. It is called People v Spector V2. This site was developed by a former assistant of Spector and will offer not just message boards and chat but possibly some "insider" insight to Phil Spector. Normally I would include TruTV/InSession message boards but since they chose not to cover this trial, I choose not to go there for this trial. If anyone knows of any other sites that would be of interest let me know and I'll add them.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Two hearings in Nicholas Sheley case

I attended 2 hearings this week in Knox County, IL in the case of Nicholas T. Sheley, a 29 year old Sterling, IL man accused of a two-state killing spree in late June that ended in the deaths of eight people.

In Knox County, Sheley faces a 17 count indictment for the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall, 65, Galesburg, IL. If convicted, Sheley faces the death penalty.

The hearing on Wednesday, October 15, is a Return of Subpoena hearing that's scheduled to start at 10 am. All that I know about this hearing is Sheriff David Clague has been subpoenaed to bring all memo concerning Sheley (visitor logs, phone calls, request for medical, etc.).

By the time I make my way to the courtroom on the second floor it is 9:45 already... I had to park farther away today and doesn't it figure, it's raining pretty heavy. ( I'm not whining, that's what my notes say. LOL) When I get to the courtroom, the doors are closed and it's obvious court is in session. I peak through the blinds and I can see the Public Defender, James Harrell is seated at the defense table with a guy next to him with a buzzed head decked out in his jail house orange jumpsuit. Darn, he looks like Sheley, but I'm not sure.

For a moment I'm disappointed, Ninth Circuit Judge Stewart set security rules for the hearings involving Sheley, once court one goes in or out....but then I notice who is sitting at the prosecution table. The attorney at the table for the state is an assistant states attorney that I've seen in court before. Whew! That means I can go in. The States Attorney, John Pepmeyer, is handling the Sheley case in Knox County with the assistance of Illinois Assistant Attorney General , Micheal Atterberry. Neither men are in the courtroom yet.

Ronald Randall's family is in the front row as usual. I take my usual seat in the next row. There is a dozen or so other people in the courtroom, but none are familiar. People come and go as the cases they are here for are up, until it's time for Sheley's hearing. Judge Stewart calls a recess, he says something about cooling off. Indeed the courtroom is pretty warm today. Testing out the furnace before it gets really cold? I suppose...thankfully a bailif opens a couple windows.

In just a few minutes the defense attorneys, James Harrell and Jeremy Karlin are taking their places and then John Pepmeyer comes in and sits down. When the Judge comes back in and calls court to order, he says that it isn't necessary for Nicolas Sheley to be here for this hearing and recognizes his defense counsel are here. Evidently no one for the Attorney General's Office will be here either. This should be quick.

Jeremy Karlin gives the judge a large envelope the defense had received, it contained transcripts and an audio CD of the interview Sheley gave to WQAD before a gag order was imposed by the court. Actually, it was one of the reasons the judge issued the gag order on September 24. Evidently the defense had requested these documents but they should have been sent to the court first. The judge gives them back to the defense and copies will be given to the state as well, but they won't go into the court file unless the defense or the state chooses to use them as evidence.

Judge Stewart says that yesterday, Sheriff Clague had provided the court with all jail records related to Sheley including incident reports, prisoner requests, medical reports and request log, visitor logs,written communications and memoranda regarding oral communication to or from Sheley as subpoenaed by the court.

Harrell says they will go through the reports to be sure that is everything they need. And the hearing is over.

After the hearing Wednesday, I learn that the defense has filed a motion requesting a case management hearing to clarify the scope of the fitness hearing order. That hearing is scheduled for Friday, October 17 at 11 am.

At a hearing Sept. 19, Sheley told the court he wanted to represent himself or have other counsel appointed if it can be determined his lawyers are ineffective. Sheley expressed his displeasure with his defense counsel accusing the pair of “sophisticated fast-lawyer talk.” Sheley said they were not adhering to his wishes for a speedy trial and his wishes were being “blown off as unimportant.”

At the same hearing, defense co-counsel Jeremy Karlin told the court they have doubt of Sheley's fitness to stand trial, his competency to knowingly wave his right to counsel and represent himself. Judge Stewart says Sheley must undergo a fitness hearing to determine whether or not he is fit to stand trial and can knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently wave his right to counsel 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. His 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. Until his fitness to stand trial is determined, James Harrell and Jeremy Karlin remain his court-appointed attorneys.

When I get to court Friday at 10:30 for the 11 am hearing, I get a parking spot right up front! It's a typical fall day in the midwest as well, 65+ degrees, partly sunny, and a slight breeze moving the gold and orange and crimson leaves from the branches of the trees to the ground around the courthouse. As long as it's not raining I love the fall. LOL

I'm not going into all of the details of courtroom today because there isn't much that pertains to Sheley's case. Counsel for the defense and the prosecution are here. Sheriff Clague is here too, that usually means Sheley is in the building.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart said the hearing was scheduled to clarify the language of his Oct. 2 order appointing a fitness expert to examine Sheley. Those of us in the court are notified the hearing will be closed to the public. I was a little surprised because I thought case management hearing are usually open hearings. The fact that this pertains to Sheley's mental health was relevant I suppose.

The hearing is held in the jury room ( for security reasons?) and is over before a some of us make our way out of the courtroom. States Attorney John Pepmeyer says that the judge said transcripts of the hearing will be made available to the media once some personal info is redacted. With that we make our way out of the courtroom.

A case management hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31. Stewart said the hearing will be open to the public.

Sheley is also charged in Whiteside County with five counts of first-degree murder in the death of Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling and 15 counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of Kilynna Blake, 20, of Cedar City, Utah - her son Dayan Blake, 2, of Cedar City, Utah - her fiancé Brock Branson, 29, of Rock Falls - and Kenneth Ulve Jr., 25, of Rock Falls. He also faces murder charges in Missouri in the deaths of Jill and Tom Estes both 54, of Sherwood, Ark. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 17, 2008

The grim reality of Casey Anthony's fairytale world

When I left off with my impressions of this fairytale world that Cindy and Casey Anthony have been living, it was August 29. I haven't blogged about this case since then (too frustrating!). I have been following the story and have read or watched the evidence that LE has released, much of it confirms the hypothesis posed in "The queen, the princess and the pawn", the first chapter of "The Caylee Anthony Saga".

This is a story about a struggle for control and little Caylee was often the pawn used to gain control.

Casey created the illusion that she was in control by pretending to have a job and a nanny, and"she has got it together". Cindy created the illusion of her successful mothering by accepting and perpetuating Casey's lies and explanations thereby looking like she was in control, and "she has got it together". *

In Cindy's case, she covered for Casey's behavior, because if the truth came to light, it would reflect poorly on her. While in Casey's case, Caylee was becoming incompatible with the image that she wanted to project in a culture of friends and acquaintances that hadn't yet matured to the level of placing anything or anyone above the goal of going out and partying. Add to that the directive Cindy gave her to take responsibility for her child, and you have someone that is not only angry for Caylee hindering her desired lifestyle and status, but also for being a symbol of Cindy's direct control over her decision making.*

The statements made to police by those involved in Casey's life have given a lot more insight to the whole Anthony clan and the dynamics at work in Anthonyland. While I don't believe anyone other than the princess is responsible for whatever has happened to Caylee, it seems they all know more than they would have us think. The question that Cindy asked Casey on July 15 remains unanswered...... What have you done?

On October 14, an Orange County Grand Jury determined that it's more likely than not, that 2 year old Caylee was killed by her mother, of course an indictment isn't proof that Casey killed Caylee, but at least the wheels of justice have started to turn. There seems no doubt that Casey is guilty of the four counts of lying to the police, she admits as much in her statement given to police at Universal. She is pretty well busted on the theft, fraud and child neglect charges as well.

Right now the walls of Anthonyland seem to be holding up against the siege they have endured...web cams running 24/7, reporters on their door step, and angry protesters who seem ready to kick their ass, they are sticking together but the cracks are definitely starting to show.

The Anthony clan, mostly the queen, created a moat around the castle with no trespassing signs and yellow tape in an effort to keep everyone off of their land and out of their lives. Alas, this may have been effective but for their insistence on hammering in those signs themselves. It only invited confrontation. It seems that most of the negative attention they have received, they have brought on themselves. Casey's lies and efforts to mislead the police and inconsistent statements by the family and the defense team, including some that defy logic, are the fuel that drives the public interest.

Having said that, it also seems wrong to camp on the curb waiting for news to happen, especially at a private residence, it gives the press a stalkerazi image and the protesters (many of whom I think had good intentions in the beginning) are looking like try-outs for Jerry Springer show. Perhaps now that the princess is incarcerated with no bail they will back off ! Law enforcement is doing their job.

The " Caylee was kidnapped" rhetoric seems to be the mortar that is keeping the walls from tumbling down in Anthonyland. Even as George Anthony arrived to testify against Casey to the grand jury, he carried a binder with a "Find Caylee" flier on the front. George spoke about the family’s latest efforts to find his granddaughter, adding they are disturbed by the fact the Sheriff’s Office shut down the tip line in mid-august.The family’s private investigator is looking into multiple potential sightings of Caylee, around the country, including New York and South Carolina, Anthony said.“We’ve been getting info out about Puerto Rico, because we believe that’s where she is, but the info I’ve gotten over the last three months is that my granddaughter has been to nine different locations,” Anthony said his family has been cleared by a judge to access all 5,000 tips recorded by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office tip line. Remember this is mortar. If they let go of this "Caylee was kidnapped" the walls of Anthonyland will come tumbling down.

According to Cindy Anthony and Jose Baez, we will all "understand" Casey's actions once the truth is told at trial. What are we going to understand about a mother not reporting her child missing for 31 days. ( Would we even know Caylee is missing if not for Cindy hunting Casey down?) What's to understand about all the lies and efforts to mislead the police when they are trying to help find her daughter? And the most disgusting aspect of this searches for chloroform and missing children before her daughter goes missing and chloroform is found in her trunk along with signs of human decomposition? Last but not least, let's hear the explanation for dancing and partying at the clubs while her daughter was "missing".

Cindy said on the Today Show that there is nothing in this world that would convince her Casey has killed Caylee. Does that mean if her body is found....then someone else did it? Trying to create some doubt are we?? It's obvious the queen is pretty heavily medicated and she would be well advised to stay off of national TV. These appearances don't help the princess's case and may well hurt.

It doesn't help either when the spokesman for Casey's defense, Todd Black, calls into CNN Headline News and says,"This is a very serious case involving not just the loss of the life of this little girl, but the loss of whatever is going to happen with Casey Anthony." He has issued several press releases since making the statement, the latest release states, CNN released a “complete fraud and stooped to the lowest low, shamefully toying with the life of Casey Anthony, who sits falsely accused of murder." Whatever! Whether you meant it or not Mr. Black, you said it. You guys just need to shut up! Save it for court.

On Friday, October 17 Casey entered a plea of not guilty to charges that she killed her daughter, Caylee..

On Tuesday October 28, 2008 at 8:45 a.m. Anthony will appear before Circuit Judge Stan Strickland for arraignment in the First Degree Murder Case.

She will return to court on Wednesday November 5, 2008 at 9:00 a.m. for the child neglect and check fraud cases. Circuit Judge Stan Strickland will also handle that appearance.

Texas EquuSearch has announced that they will resume the search for Casey Anthony’s missing 2-year-old daughter, Caylee Anthony, on Saturday November 8. According to Tim Miller, founder and director of the organization, it will be the “biggest search in history.”

In related news, Leonard Padilla has sought out the aide of bounty hunters from around the United States, who are now planning on coming to Orlando to help out in the search effort and have also raised money to finance it. Equusearch is going to train the bounty hunters to be search team leaders.

None too soon, the grim reality of Casey's fairytale world will come to light in the woods around the airport, and even if Caylee isn't found, the grim evidence of what happened to Caylee will be presented in a court of law.


*excerpts from post by cb (great post) on The Criminal Report Daily on ID

FOX Orlando

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Phil Spector re-trial coverage on The Legal Edge

I received an e-mail this morning from The Legal Edge info staff, they directed me to Michael Bryant's blog for the latest on PS2. I posted the blog here for your convenience; however, I recommend you check out the site and get registered for upcoming trials. (On a personal note, I had a lot of trouble registering with TLE until I used a hotmail account, if you are having trouble I would suggest you try to register with a hotmail account.)

Thank you Legal Edge for trying to work this out, your efforts are appreciated !

Here is a copy of the blog:

Missed By a Hair

Filed under: Phil Spector, The Legal Edge — mbryant @ 7:52 am

Of course if talking about Phil Spector’s hair a miss is as good as a mile. For those who read only headlines…We did not get enough PS2 fans to pledge their allegiance to a TLE production of the music producer’s re-trial.
We tried. We wish we had longer to get the word out. The hundreds of folks we got to commit in five days might have blossomed into the number we needed (1000) but we are out of time. I will be calling Judge Fidler this morning to officially bow out.
Thanks to all who tried to rally the troops. I believe there is still hope for Openings, Closings and Verdict to be televised but there has been no official word on that yet.
TLE is moving on. The two trials we were considering have been moved into 2009, so the pickings are slim but we’re lining up the best of the rest. And construction continues on our new features so keep an eye out for more as The Legal Edge Network works to become the place for all things legal.
MJB Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I just received an e-mail from info/ that said, "More on the status of PS2 coming up Wednesday. " Hopefully it's good news !

It has come to my attention that there is possibly an opportunity to have gavel to gavel coverage of Spector's re-trial. If you are willing to pay and at least 1000 people sign up, The Legal Edge Network will try to get it done. is a new online site created by Michael Bryant a practicing attorney, journalist, and broadcaster. Many may remember him as a former court tv reporter.

Yeah, I'd rather watch free, but I'm willing to pay for a couple months of full coverage. I have already invested 6 months of my time during the first trial and would like to see this through.

Remember too, if you can't afford a subscription for full coverage, you can still see parts of the trial at KTLA.

Here is the e-mail I received from The Legal Edge today:


I once covered the "fight of the century". It was 1986 at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns vs. "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. The fight lasted only 2 1/2 rounds before the "Hitman" went down, and while celebufight fans like Bo Derek and Sly Stallone called it the best fight ever, the boxers were plotting to set up the rematch. As the glassy eyed Hearns told me after the fight, "We did it once...let's do it again."

What the heck does this have to to with The Legal Edge? Nothing really, except that after an outpouring of Phil Spector fan e-mails I've decided to try one last time to get a read on how many folks would really subscribe to a monthly service that allowed us to cover costs to stream the Spector trial.

Here's the deal: I've opened a new e-mail address just to receive commitments from PS2 fans. If the number is sufficient (and based on my calculations and production costs that number needs to be at least 1000 viewers at $35.00 per month. The cost would go down if we get more subscribers) we would go ahead with setting up the actual payment structure to assure these commitments. The last thing we want to do is start the process and end up going under because a large number of folks flaked.

Here's the dedicated e-mail address:

So, pass this along to anyone interested. I'll e-mail the basics to all registered at TLE...and we'll see. It's up to you now.

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