Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nicholas Sheley Has Been Moved Again And Scheduled To Testify Next Week In His Brother's Trial

I received notification tonight that Nicholas Sheley has been transferred to Pontiac Correctional Center as of 12/4/2009.
The following information is provided on the Illinois Department of Corrections website:

Pontiac Correctional Center
Opened: June 1871
Capacity: 1,058
Level 1: Maximum-Security Adult Male
Level 3: High Medium-Security Male
Total Average Daily Population: 1,612
Average Age: 34
Average Annual Cost Per Inmate: $33,031.00
The facility consists of a total of 63 buildings, which comprise of more than 744,000 square feet. The facility sits on a 37-acre site, with 32 acres being enclosed by fencing. Pontiac Correctional Center houses the following offenders: segregation, condemned protective custody, mental health, administrative detention reintegration management and medium security.
Sheley was also in court today (12/4) in Galesburg, IL for a case management hearing in the Ronald Randall murder case. I will put up an entry from this hearing later, there was a lot of legal jargon thrown around that I need to research and look at the motions discussed in the hearing before I can transcribe my notes. (Yes, I wrote it, but I don't know what all of it means) LOL

Nicholas Sheley (NS) is scheduled to testify for the defense in his brother Joshua's trial on Wednesday, December 9, in Whiteside County. We'll see if Nick follows through.....you just never know with him. Joshua Sheley (JS), of Rock Falls, is charged with concealment of a homicidal death and obstructing justice. JS is alleged to have helped his brother, NS, hide the body of Russell Reed, 93, Sterling, who was killed in late June 2008.

NS is charged with killing Reed before he allegedly went on to kill seven other people in two states over the next week. Sheley will stand trial for the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg first. That trial is tenatively scheduled Late Summer or Early Fall 2010.
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

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

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Finally....Full Justice For Hanna Mack.....Sort Of.

Earlier this year, katfish....ponders told readers about six year old Hanna Mack, from Texas. I noticed a good number of "hits" recently looking for information on Hanna's case and realized I had not followed up on the case, so here it is.

Hanna was much like any other six year old girl. She was a "girly girl" who loved dolls, putting on jewelry and wearing a tiara while playing princess.

In September 2007, Hanna was thrilled about two big events: starting the first grade and getting the training wheels off of her bicycle. According to her grandmother, she was especially excited about school because she loved books and could see her new friends everyday. Not surprisingly, at six years old, Hanna's only plans for her future were to be a princess when she grew up.

A few months before school started, Hanna had moved to Navarro Mills, TX. with her mother, Dana Mack, and her two older sisters (12 and 14). Her mom met a boyfriend named Kevin Wayne Anders,32, and allowed him to move in with them.

Hopefully, nothing that you hear from here on out about Hanna will sound like the life of any other six year old child.

When Dana Mack went to bed the night of Sept. 9, 2007, she saw her youngest daughter, Hanna, sleeping on the living room couch at about one in the morning. Less than seven hours later, Dana Mack would find Hanna's half-naked dead body hanging from the rafters of her family's garage. That Monday morning, Sept. 10, 2007, when Hanna should have been getting ready for school, police were scouring her home trying to find clues to her murder. Medical examiners determined that Hanna had been beaten, raped and then hung.

While going through a computer taken from the Mack home, criminal investigators found the presence of child pornography. On Sept. 13 Kevin Wayne Anders was arrested for possession of child pornography. On September 14, 2007, Hanna was buried in a purple and white frilly dress and her tiara.

For several weeks Anders was the primary suspect in Hanna's murder; however, on Sept. 26 DNA evidence came back which pointed to Shaun Earl Arender,19, who lived down the street from the Mack/Anders household and Arender was charged with Hanna's murder.

On February 13, 2009, Shaun Earl Arender gave his confession in open court as part of a plea bargain to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole by District Judge James Lagomarsino. Under questioning by District Attorney R. Lowell Thompson, Arender placed the blame on the former live-in boyfriend of Hanna's mother, Kevin Wayne Anders, claiming he was just going along with the sexual assault of the first-grader when she died.

On the stand, Arender unraveled a sickening tale of people on the edge of society, and the consequences for the vulnerable children in their midst. Here is a bit of his testimony as reported in the Corsicana Daily Sun :

(Warning! Parts of this testimony are graphic in nature and may disturb some readers; therefore, the testimony is shown in italic print.)

Arender said that he had been smoking marijuana that night and wandered away from the trailer where he was staying with a family member and his pregnant girlfriend, when he ran into Anders in front of the house where Anders was living with Dana Mack and her three daughters.

Anders called him over and asked to share Arender’s drugs, and they smoked and talked for an hour and a half or two hours on the porch before Anders offered him a drink. Anders went into the house and returned with a soda, and with a sleepy Hanna Mack, whom he claimed had just woken up. It was around 3 a.m. on Sept. 10, 2007.

Arender claimed it was Anders who first reached into the child’s underwear, and then began choking her to muffle her screams. Arender said that Anders then carried her into the garage and urged Arender to rape the girl on a couch. Arender said the two then molested the girl.

“I don’t know why I tried,” Arender said.

Throughout most of the assault, the girl was unconscious because she had been choked twice by Anders, Arender testified. Finally, Anders began talking about hanging, and they used a cord to hang the girl from the rafters.“I didn’t come up with it, I just went along with it and started helping out,” Arender said.

After court, DA Thompson told the media, “Navarro County law enforcement will investigate all possible leads in this case.” Arender said in court that he would return to Navarro County to testify against Anders.

Even though no physical evidence was ever found linking Kevin Wayne Anders to the Hanna Mack slaying and he has never been charged with her murder, it looks like there will still be full justice of a sort for Hanna. A Navarro County jury found Anders guilty of 10 counts of possession of child pornography. District Judge James Lagomarsino followed that up with ten 10-year sentences, to be served consecutively.

Possession of child pornography is a third-degree felony, with punishments ranging from two to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count. Anders will receive credit for the time he has already served in the Navarro County jail since his arrest in September 2007 (at the time of Hanna's death) leaving him 98 years and four months.

During the sentencing portion of the trial, Kevin Anders took the stand to say that he didn’t do the crime for which he was convicted, and blamed Dana Mack for downloading the child pornography on the computer. Lagomarsino noted Anders' reluctance to take responsibility for his actions when he handed down the long sentence.

Hopefully, readers with children will take from this post the lesson that Dana Mack learned the hard way....the choices that you make for yourself may affect your children for the rest of their life....that is....if it doesn't cost them their life.

RIP " Little Princess"


Corsicana Daily Sun
 
Dallas Daily News Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sheley Reception At Illinois Department Of Corrections




K77192 - SHELEY, NICHOLAS T.
Parent Institution: Stateville Correctional Center
Inmate Status: IN CUSTODY
Location:
Discharge Reason:
___________________________________________________________________________________
VITALS
__________________________________________________________________________

Date of Birth: 07-31-1979
Weight: 190 lbs.
Hair: Brown
Sex:Male
Height: 5 ft. 10 in.
Race: White
Eyes: Blue
__________________________________________________________________________________

MARKS, SCARS, & TATTOOS _________________________________________________________________________
TATTOO, CHEST - SPIDER, WOMAN,"MONICA"
TATTOO, ARM, RIGHT - REAPER,WIZARD,DRAGON,CRYSTAL BAL
TATTOO, ARM, LEFT - CROSS,RIBBON,SUN W/ FACE
TATTOO, ABDOMEN - "SHE" ; L FGR: "NICK"
TATTOO, LEG, LEFT - NIKE SYMBOL/"JUST DO IT"

_________________________________________________________________________
ADMISSION / RELEASE / DISCHARGE INFO
__________________________________________________________________________________
Custody Date: 11/06/2009
Projected Parole Date: 10/17/2012
Paroled Date: --
Tentative Discharge Date:
Discharge From Parole: 10/17/2014
__________________________________________________________________________________
SENTENCING INFORMATION
__________________________________________________________________________________

MITTIMUS:09CF225

CLASS:2

COUNT:3

OFFENSE:AGG BTRY/HARM/PEACE OFFICER

CUSTODY DATE:04/17/2009

SENTENCE:7 YEARS 0 MONTHS 0 DAYS

COUNTY:KNOX

SENTENCE DISCHARGED?:NO
__________________________________________________________________________________
MITTIMUS:09CF225

CLASS:4

COUNT:1

OFFENSE:CRIM DMG/GOVT PROP/EXPL/<$500

CUSTODY DATE:04/17/2009

SENTENCE:1 YEARS 0 MONTHS 0 DAYS COUNTY:

KNOX SENTENCE DISCHARGED?:NO __________________________________________________________________________________

MITTIMUS:00CF49

CLASS:1

COUNT:1

OFFENSE:AGGRAVATED ROBBERY CUSTODY

CUSTODY DATE:05/03/2000

SENTENCE:6 YEARS 0 MONTHS 0 DAYS COUNTY:

WHITESIDE SENTENCE DISCHARGED?:YES ___________________________________________________________________________________

MITTIMUS:97CF215

CLASS:4

COUNT:1

OFFENSE:POSS CANNABIS/30-500 GRAM/

1ST CUSTODY DATE:08/09/1999

SENTENCE:1 YEARS 0 MONTHS 0 DAYS

COUNTY:WHITESIDE

SENTENCE DISCHARGED?:YES

___________________________________________________________________________________
MITTIMUS:97CF215

CLASS:4

COUNT:1

OFFENSE:CARRY/POSSESS FIREARM/

1ST CUSTODY DATE:08/09/1999

SENTENCE:1 YEARS 0 MONTHS 0 DAYS

COUNTY:WHITESIDE

SENTENCE DISCHARGED?:YES


Note: When I first checked the IDOC website and brought the information over to the blogger Sheley's inmate status was listed as RECEPTION, when I went back to verify I had all of the information correct a few minutes later his inmate status had changed to IN CUSTODY. I don't know for sure if this means he has now been assigned to Stateville to serve his sentence. When I find out I will update this entry.


Another thing I want to note is that when Nicholas Sheley was sentenced to the seven years, James Harrell asked the court if this sentence was eligible for the 50% . Judge Mathers told him that is up to the Department of Corrections. Actually the issue is not so subjective. As noted above the 50% does apply and evidently he is given time from the date of the incident. Having said all of that, it will be a long time before if ever Nicholas Sheley walks out of jail. He still has to stand trial for the deaths of 8 people he is accused of killing in late June 2008.


Since 1978 Illinois has not used indeterminate sentencing (parole) in our prisons, our prison system uses determinate sentencing. This massive reform, widely supported by both the offender and victim community alike, and widely supported by the entire law enforcement and most of the legal community, took much of the politics and randomness out of prisoners' sentences by eliminating parole.Parole was a wildly discriminatory system, never applied consistently, and very subject to human error and politics.


Under determinate sentencing all prisoners except murderers are eligible to earn up to half off their sentences but ONLY measured objectively by their own good behavior - not some politically appointed board. Every day they are good, they earn a day off their sentence. (Some serious non murder cases like aggravated rape can only earn 15% off and murders as of 1993 can not earn any time off.) Any bets on now long this guy can behave?
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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Nicholas Sheley Withdraws Guilty Plea; Change of Venue For Murder Trial Denied, For Now. Part 1

Friday, November 6, was another pretrial hearing at the Knox County courthouse in the murder case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley. The purpose of the hearing was for both parties to argue the defense motion for change of venue and the state’s response to the motion. The court also planned to discuss Sheley’s previously stated intention to change his plea to guilty for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, Galesburg.

Sheley told the court at a hearing on September 29 that he wished to plead guilty to all 17 counts in the kidnapping and bludgeoning death of Randall. If convicted in Randall’s death Sheley may face the death penalty. Sheley is also accused of killing seven others in the two-state killing spree in late June 2008.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied the defense request for the change of venue saying that moving the trial now would be premature. When Stewart asked Sheley if he still wanted to plead guilty, defense attorney Jeremy Karlin told the court , “He does not wish to plead guilty at this time.” I will cover this in greater detail and supply links to the defense first supplemental motion for change of venue, two defense exhibits and the state’s response to the motion within my “in the courtroom report”:

When I walk into the courtroom, the row reserved for the accredited press, the front row on the defense side of the courtroom, is almost full. I see a guy I know from a radio station I listen to. I haven’t seen him in court before and his mother is a friend of mine, so I stop and say hello. I notice behind the press are people who are representatives of the defense, a private investigator and several administrative assistants. There are a man and woman I don't know but I'm sure are with defense attorney John Hanlon.

There are already a lot of people sitting on the prosecution side of the courtroom. Family of Ronald Randall are sitting in the first and third rows. In the second row are two of Randall’s friends and a couple who I recognize as family of Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling, IL. Reed was the first victim in the alleged killing spree. I take a seat in between Reed’s family and Randall’s friends.

Knox County Victim’s Rights Advocate, Shirley Pringle, is sitting with Mr. Randall’s family in the front row. She turns and says something to me about being a “personality“. I was interviewed by a local weekly paper called “The Zephyr” this week about blogging and Katfish…Ponders. They ran the story on the front page so I guess I’m a “personality” this week. LOL

A woman sitting with Shirley asks me if I’m Katfish. I recognize her as the Victim’s Rights Advocate for Whiteside County. She says she just found this blog the other day. (I didn’t catch her name, but if you are reading this, welcome! ) There are 5 victims of this alleged killing spree in Whiteside County. No doubt she is a great source of help for the relatives of these victims, I know Shirley is invaluable to Knox County.

Sheriff David Clague and Jail Administrator Captain David Caslin are here, which means that Sheley is in the building. I notice Gary Spence the Whiteside County States Attorney is here too as well as a few other I don't know but have seen before. I guess everyone is curious what is going to happen today.

At 9:25 Sheley is brought into the courtroom fully shackled. He is escorted by four Sheriff's deputies and there are two bailiffs nearby, as well as one at the door outside the courtroom. This is all the normal procedure. One thing that is different is Sheley comes in wearing a bullet proof vest. I have seen him with it on outside the courthouse but never in the courtroom. Wonder what's up with that? He sits down at the defense table takes off his readers and closes his eyes.

At 9:50 Judge Stewart calls court in session and we go on the record. At the defense table is co-counsel Jeremy Karlin, then Sheley, co-counsel John Hanlon and then Public Defender James Harrell. Because this is a death penalty case Sheley is appointed 3 attorneys. At the table for the state is Illinois Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward, Knox County States Attorney John Pepmeyer, and also from the Attorney general’s Office Michael Atterberry and Stephen Plazibat. The Attorney General's office will be assisting in prosecuting Sheley in Whiteside County too.

Jeremy Karlin tells the court that the state and the defense have agreed to some stipulations regarding evidence:
Exhibit A-Script of questions from defense phone poll
Exhibit B-Results from the first phone poll conducted June 2, 2009

Exhibit C- I think this was the results from the second phone poll conducted October 8, 2009 ( I’m sorry I don’t have a copy of this).

Karlin then reads off a list of exhibits from various media outlets. I didn’t get them all in my notes but they are referenced in the Defense First Supplemental To Motion for Change of Venue. Stephen Plazibat acknowledges the stipulation for the record.

Jeremy Karlin gets up to address the court. I’m not able to get down direct quotes of what he says but will give you the jest of it, as I understand it. Karlin says that with regard to change of venue this case has received coverage not just locally but perhaps even nationally. He tells the court that we judge ourselves by the way we judge those accused of even the most heinous of crimes. Karlin then presents a Power Point presentation to the court which is shown on the wall adjacent to the defense table.

The beginning of the Power point starts with,” With his life at stake, he should not be tried in an atmosphere by_______________________. “I missed the end but if memory serves me correctly he said something to the effect of …“an atmosphere that as a result of pretrial publicity, the jury pool has been exposed to substantial, inaccurate and inflammatory information about Nicholas Sheley and the present case“…..this is a quote from the defense motion so if not exactly what was said it shouldn’t be too far off the mark.

Karlin cites case law of Irwin vs. Dowd U.S. 717 (1961) and says he feels there are striking similarities between that and the Sheley case.
In that case:


  • 6 individuals were killed in 1 county, while the COV motion was granted, the trial was moved to an adjoining county, therefore the same media outlets.
  • Facts inadmissible at trial were reported
  • In the voir dire, 8 of 12 jurors had professed an opinion of the defendants guilt.

In this case:

  • Alleged murder of 8 in 3 jurisdictions. One in Knox County, Five in Whiteside County and Two in Missouri.
  • The publicity discussed facts that are inadmissible at trial:
    Defendants desire to plead guilty
    Incidents at the jail
    Behavior in court
    Disagreements with counsel
    Forensic Evidence
    Background of the murder victims
    Behavior of the victim’s family
    Chris Minor from WQAD who conducted a phone interview with Mr. Sheley, and is present in court today, asked Sheley, ”Why don’t you just plead guilty and get it over with?”
    (More of that interview is cited in the defense supplemental motion on page 9, #18.)

  • 85% of those who responded to our phone survey believe defendant is guilty.

  • 80% had heard of the case. Karlin listed several different media outlets from throughout the region including print, radio, TV, and bloggings (that's a 1st in this case).

(Try as I might to locate the case of Irwin vs. Dowd I wasn’t successful. I did find many cases that cited the case law from Irwin vs. Dowd, but this rookie doesn’t know how to properly reference those cases; therefore, I’ll give it to you in my words, to my understanding. If I’m way off base I won’t be offended if someone corrects me. My understanding of the way Karlin is referencing this case law is that even though the standard for determining potential juror bias is the voir dire process, Irwin vs. Dowd found that isn’t always the case if someone has already developed an opinion, regardless of their intention to judge impartially, so there should be a change in venue.)

Karlin says there has been an enormous amount of media interest in this case, he says this courtroom is full and half is media interest. (I take a count in the gallery, of the 27 people present 6 are media that I recognize, one I don't know, a very young guy, could be a student and since he mentioned bloggers I'll count myself, that's 8 or about 30%. Only a slight exaggeration. LOL)

Karlin continues with the Power Point demonstration. For the sake of space, I will refer you to pages 16 and 17 , items #34-38, in the Supplemental Motion For COV that I provided a link to above. This is the same information. Next my notes say that in Exhibit B (link above) there is a decreasing number of people responding. Irwin v. Dowd speaks to that. Blanket venire.(Sorry so cryptic)

Karlin then moves on to Exhibit C. This is the results from the second round of phone polls done on October 8, after Sheley's September Battery conviction related to the jailhouse incident. (I don't have copies of these results yet but I'll tell you what I have in my notes.)

  • 82% described knowledge of the case.

  • 86% believed he was "probably" not guilty

  • 4 out of 708 or 1% believe he is "probably" innocent.

  • 63% believed because of prior knowledge of the case it would be hard to be impartial.

  • 37% reported they believed they could be impartial and decide only on admissable evidence.

Karlin says that prejudice against Nicholas Sheley is not going to eb. He asks, is what people are actually saying indicative of what they are actually feeling? Karlin plays for the court audio recordings from the 1st and 2nd polls. Afterward he says they point to an issue not found in polls- the talk in town. Karlin says these people's comments are dehumanizing the defendant.......well...at least there was one guy who was willing to buy him a beer before he puts a bullet in his head. Karlin then plays a 3 way conversation the poll picked up on a speaker phone, he says this call shows a persuasive prejudice against the defendant and tells the court in summation....if a change of venue is not justified in this case, is there a case that would be?


Because of space concerns on blogger I am doing this hearing as a 2 part entry so it doesn't get a smooshed together. I will link to the other in each entry for the ease of the readers. Click here for part 2 unless you are on the main page and then it is directly below this entry. Sphere: Related Content

Nicholas Sheley Withdraws Guilty Plea; Change of Venue For Murder Trial Denied, For Now. Part 2

Update at bottom of this entry!

This entry is part 2 of an entry from a Friday, November 6 pretrial hearing at the Knox County courthouse in the murder case of accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley. Click here to read part 1 first.

The purpose of the hearing was for both parties to argue the defense motion for change of venue and the state’s response to the motion. The court also planned to discuss Sheley’s previously stated intention to change his plea to guilty for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, Galesburg. Part 1 contains the first portion of the hearing where the defense presented their arguments for a change of venue.

Part 2 will contain the arguments from the
States Response To Defendant’s Motion and Supplemental Motion For Change Of Venue , the rebuttal from the defense and finally the ruling made by Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart on the motion. Sheley will also tell the court whether he still intends to change his plea to guilty for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, Galesburg.

Stephen Plazibat stands to present the state's response to the court. He starts by saying that in the recent Battery trial for Nicholas Sheley stemming from the April jailhouse incident, a jury from Knox County was able to be selected in one day. The voir dire was performed in five panels of six venires and one of five. Of the 35 potential jurors there was only ten challenges for cause. This just shows how important the voir dire process is versus a telephone polling process. In the voir dire potential jurors are given a road map of the judicial process per Supreme Court rule 431.

Plazibat submits the responses obtained from a phone poll should not be given weight because of the respondents anger at the interruption to their daily life. He says that the DVD submitted by the defense of taped responses reflect indignation for being bothered, yet a large percentage say they could be impartial. Regarding the poll itself....there has been lots of publicity in the last year and a half.....but publicity itself is not...( I'm sorry my notes drop off here, I will complete the thought from memory and a review of the state's response to the motion ) enough to bias a jury. This information will be stale and irrelevant because the passage of time removes the prejudicial effect that publicity may have on a potential juror . Most of the publicity cited will be 2 years old by the time of voir dire under our current trial schedule, the Summer of 2010, at the earliest.

The State's Response to the Defense Supplemental Motion only addresses the first phone poll. The newest poll showed that 74-78% of the respondents had limited knowledge or no knowledge of the case. There is a 4% variance because 49 dropped out of the survey by the time they reached this question.

According to the raw data provided , Exhibit B, A total of 850 respondents were polled. At least 205 know nothing about the case and can be best described as ideal prospective jurors. The pollster eliminated these 205 respondents from further participation in the poll. It is important to consider in an actual voir dire, these 205 would not have been eliminated after the first question.

The second question of the poll asked the remaining respondents to describe their level of knowledge about the case. Of 603 (42 dropped out without explanation), 108 respondents hardly remembered anything, 339 remembered some details, and only 156 respondents were very familiar with the case. If you add the 205 respondents who knew nothing to the 108 who knew hardly anything, to the 339 who knew some details about the case, you come up with over 80% of respondents who knew marginal details of the case.

Plazibat says that the fourth question asked of the respondents in the poll, Exhibit A, was for them to give an opinion of the defendants guilt. Once again the 205 respondents who knew nothing about the case were excluded from answering this question, even though one of the permissible answers was "no opinion". If you assume those 205 who know nothing of the case would have answered "no opinion" then only 64% of respondents would have expressed an opinion of "probably guilty" rather than the 87% reflected in the survey results. (Pages 5 and 6 of the state's response give other examples of ways that statistics can be played.)


Regardless of the statistical games that can be played with surveys, the bottom line is that this is exactly the type of inquiry that the United State's Supreme Court has found to be irrelevant to the voir dire process. Plazibat then also cites Irwin vs. Dowd U.S. 717(1961) as referenced on page 5 of the state's response.

He says that during this poll respondents are not told any of the rights of the defendant as they would be during voir dire.

Additional considerations suggested by Plazibat are:

  • Defendant will soon be moved from Knox County, due to his recent Battery conviction, and will no longer be in the press because of issues related to jail conduct.
  • Evidentiary hearings in the future should be more effective after these.( ??? that's all my notes say)He asks the court to wait and see what issues arise from future evidentiary hearings.

Plazibat summarized that a poll conducted in the Summer of 2009 will have no validity for a voir dire to be conducted in the Summer of 2010, at the earliest.The question asked of poll respondents regarding their ability to be impartial doesn't even remotely resemble the questions that would be asked by the court on that issue. In Illinois jurors must be informed of essential legal principles, such as presumption of innocence and burden of proof, that deal directly with their ability to be fair and impartial.

Plazibat cited cases that he said had more publicity over a longer period of time, such as the Brown Chicken in Cook county and another case in Du Page County(sorry I didn't catch what case), that were able to seat a jury in the jurisdiction the incident occurred.

Plazibat requests the judge wait to make a decision on change of venue until this case is closer to trial. If another jurisdiction is chosen at this stage, it may be flooded with publicity as well.

Judge Stewart asks the defense if they have a rebuttal? Jeremy Karlin stands again for the defense. He begins by saying that cases in Cook and Du Page Counties cannot be compared to this case because the jury is drawn from a much larger pool.

Karlin argues that Dowd shows that once an opinion is formed, it cannot be set aside. He says the publicity in this case is not going to wane in 6 - 10 months.

Karlin then addresses 3 points the state made:

  1. "The Prosecutions best friend"- Change of Venue only available if it proves impossible to find an impartial jury....as state would have you believe, it's an impossible standard to establish 12 who know nothing about the case.
  2. Polling is not fair- If polling not fair, why do politicians rely so heavily on it?
  3. Comparing seating a jury in the aggravated battery case to this case- Aggravated battery case cannot be used as evidence in this case, the transcripts are not available. That conviction will be appealed based on issues from voir dire and the courts refusal of a motion for change of venue. I was not at that trial, this is asking us to assume the jury was asked the proper questions. Karlin notes he doesn't intend this to reflect on James Harrell who was counsel in that case, but he doesn't know what questions were asked. How they were asked ? Did the court properly grant challenges for cause? How was voir dire conducted? Were closed questions asked to elicit assertions or were open questions asked to elicit venire's actual opinions? He concludes this point by saying that if the court accepts the Aggravated Battery trial as a model, the court will be assuming or speculating what happened in that trial.

Karlin tells the court this is a murder case seeking state sanctioned murder. What is the state's motivation? Why objecting to this motion? In order for the adversarial process to work, they must do their job. Do they perceive an advantage to the state in having the case tried in Knox County? Fair trials don't start with a 50/50 proposition, they start unbalanced with the accused presumed not guilty. What harm if the court grants the motion? The court would be more assured of less publicity versus the possibility of greater harm.

Judge Stewart says he will reserve ruling. We will take a 5-10 minute recess. Sheley is escorted out of the courtroom to the holding cell. Some people get up and move around, others stay seated. I stay seated and talk with some of the people around me. I find out that the family of Russell Reed is Mr. Reed's son and daughter-in -law. I won't share everything we talked about, I don't want them to think I am speaking to them just to blab on here. I will share that I learned Mr. Reed was not a total stranger to Sheley. I also learned the Reeds are a very nice couple, truly kind hearted and despite what happened to their father they seem optimistic about life. I admire that.

At 11:14 Sheley is brought back in and a minute later we are back on the record. Judge Stewart addresses Nicholas Sheley. He says, " Mr. Sheley, some time ago you expressed a desire to plead guilty in this case." Jeremy Karlin spoke on behalf of Sheley saying that despite a recent court filing that stated Sheley wished to plead guilty, against his counsel's advice, Mr. Sheley has decided he does not want to plead guilty at this time. When Stewart asked Sheley is it correct he had changed his mind and doesn't want to plead guilty ? Sheley responded, "it is."

Bill Elward rises for the state and reminds the court that the defense discovery deadline is set for December 1. He says something about a summary motion to compel and that he will have a motion to file by Monday.

Karlin responds when the defense sees a motion to compel we will look at it. Events of the last month......If I feel I can't comply we will file a motion. Feel as being prejudiced by disclosures not being made. Happy to look at the state's motion and file in an amicable manner.

Elward stands again and says, "We have tendered all the discovery we have."

Stewart says to file the motions and he will rule at that time. Stewart then asks Karlin to please submit the audio he played in court as Exhibit 1 and make a record. In fact, better yet, a disc of the Power Point and the audio for the record.

Stewart then addresses his ruling for the Defense Change of Venue Motion. He says this may not be the only time this is visited, it is woefully early in the case. A motion for a change of venue is at the discretion of the court, must balance the interest of both parties.

  1. He must assure a fair unbiased jury trial.
  2. The preference is for a trial to be held where the crime took place.
  3. Must consider the cost of the trial. A capital case is expensive anyway and this trial may last 5 or 6 weeks. The cost to the state must also be weighed.

Stewart says that Mr. Karlin did an excellent job presenting the motion, particularly interspersing comments not heard before. He does acknowledge he realizes the comments were picked and chosen to uphold the defense position. He adds that the poll is operated in a vacuum which is different from jury selection. Because we realize that potential jurors watch TV, listen to radio and read newspapers and blogs (woohoo) there is an orientation process for jurors. They are informed of a defendants rights and procedures of the court.

Prospective jurors may have impressions and opinions, but when they are questioned individually they are more serious. They are instructed to view evidence in a fresh state of mind and take an oath to follow the law and render fair unbiased opinions. Decisions must be made under the law whether we agree with the law or not.

We cannot assume based on a poll alone that the poll answers would remain the same after the entire voir dire. The best test is the entire venire. Stewart adds he was surprised that a jury was sat in just one day in the battery case. Voir dire is the best test. He adds the capital case will be significantly larger, he expects 500+ venire will be called. He notes the disagreement on the conclusions of bias but it still leaves a significant number of people.

Stewart says in conclusion the motion may be premature. I intend to go through voir dire, it makes sense to select....what is the harm? No harm. Knox County has an interest in this case being tried in the county in which the alleged crime is said to have been committed. He then rules The Motion For Change Of Venue is premature- denied. May be revisited if....

Elward stands and reminds the court with discovery deadline set for December 1 another case management hearing needs to be set. After a little juggling of schedules the next hearing is set for December 4 at 1:30.

Jeremy Karlin double checks with Stewart, " We are not precluded from renewing the motion pretrial?" Stewart says correct and court is recessed.

Update-This comment was left on another Sheley entry last night. I moved it over here so you would know how the rest of the day went for NS yesterday:

Subject was welcomed to DOC today at the Northern Reception Center (NRC), Stateville (separate from Stateville Prison proper) in Crest Hill, just north of Joliet. Rather tight security due to his history of assaulting staff. Guy looks like an everyday moron. Nothing remarkable, just creepy.

Some security staff is slightly miffed about the added security; they handle violent scum like this on a routine basis, and this turd doesn't rate exceptional precautions that might serve to augment his reputation or 'standing' among his new peers here. Not that there will be any opportunity for fraternization here.

I hope he enjoys the ambiance. NRC is very high security, 6x9 cells with solid doors (no bars), at least 23 hours per day lockup with no activity. Some of the worst food in DOC. Loud. Bad ventilation.This is the facility where offenders get their crash course in indifference. They transition from being the defendant, the center of attention, to just another of the 1,800 assholes we house until they've found a new permanent home at one of DOC's satellite shitholes. He is now nobody.

Sphere: Related Content

Sheley Wants To Plead Guilty To Ronald Randall's Death

Nicholas Sheley, 30, of Sterling, IL is accused of a two-state killing spree in June 2008 that left 8 people dead. He will stand trial first in Knox County, IL where he is accused of the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.

On September 29, there was a pre-trial hearing in the murder case against Sheley in Knox County. This hearing was scheduled to hear arguments about a defense motion to dismiss 16 of the 17 indictments against Sheley based on insufficient pleadings. Katfish Ponders was not able to attend that hearing, but did obtain copies of the defense motion to dismiss and the state’s response to the motion to dismiss. I uploaded the documents for those who wish to review them.

Susan Kaufman of The Register-Mail reported that defense attorney John Hanlon said the indictments need to be more specific so the defense does not have a disadvantage. The state argued it has provided the defense with more than 9,000 pages of discovery documents so neither side is at a disadvantage. “They have all the information we have at this point,” said Illinois Assistant Attorney General Stephen
Plazibat. Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied the motion to dismiss charges, saying the wording in the charges was sufficient.

Kaufman also reported at the start of the hearing Nicholas Sheley said, “Your honor, I would like to change my plea to guilty.” Stewart asked if Sheley’s attorneys wanted to talk to Sheley about his guilty plea but they elected to discuss the matter after the hearing.Stewart said Sheley, accused of the bludgeoning death of Galesburg’s Ronald Randall, has a constitutional right to revoke his not guilty plea. Stewart said Sheley’s defense must file a statement within 30 days that they have had discussions with Sheley about that decision. “If he still wants to plead guilty against the wishes of his counsel which is his constitutional right, then he has every right to do so,” Stewart said. Sheley, who has criticized the legal and judicial systems in previous court appearances, laughed out loud after Stewart spoke.

This was not Sheley’s first mention of guilt. According to a Sept. 23 Sauk Valley News report, Sheley wrote a letter dated July 25, 2009, stating he intends to plead guilty to killing 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling. Sheley’s brother, Joshua, is accused of helping hide Reed’s body. Joshua Sheley’s trial, scheduled to begin last week, was delayed until a judge determines if Nicholas Sheley is competent to waive his right against self-incrimination and testify at his brother’s trial.Plazibat requested Sheley’s two sealed competency exams be released to Whiteside County officials so attorneys can prepare for hearings in Josh Sheley’s trial. Sheley objected to their release but Stewart said Sheley needed to file his objection in writing.

The matter will be discussed at Sheley’s next case management hearing Nov. 6. A hearing to discuss a change of venue also is scheduled for that day. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nicholas Sheley Sentenced To Seven Years For Jailhouse Attack

Nicholas Sheley is a 30 year old Sterling, IL man accused of a June 2008 two-state killing spree that left eight people dead. He will now spend some of his time awaiting trials (to be held in several locations) for the alleged killing spree in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

On Friday, October 30, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Stephen Mathers sentenced Sheley to seven years in prison for a September conviction on charges resulting from an incident at the Knox County Jail in April. Sheley was convicted on 3 counts of Aggravated Assault, 1 count of Aggravated Battery and 1 count of Criminal Damage to Government Property. Sheley allegedly broke apart a metal chair and threw the legs at peace and correctional officers causing them injury. He also allegedly punched one of them.

Today is a typical Midwestern Autumn day, the temperature is 50ish, a light breeze and there is intermittent drizzle. Not the most pleasant of weather, but as I pull up to the courthouse I notice how lovely the scenery around the courthouse is. Absolutely awesome! Adjacent to the courthouse is Standish Park Arboretum, a three acre park with almost 200 trees and shrubs. It’s a technicolor of crimson and gold everywhere. I’ll try to remember to bring my camera to the hearing scheduled next week….although by then the ground my be the only technicolor left. LOL

I had in my notes from the last day of trial that this hearing would start at 9am, but when I get to the courthouse steps a few minutes before 9, I see Ronald Randall’s family just getting out of their cars and I know right then the hearing must start later. They are almost always the first ones in the courtroom. I have said this before, they are here absolutely to represent their brother, father, uncle (depending who is here, always his sisters) in a quiet and consistent way. Two of Ronald’s friends are here too….but I won’t give them kudos for being timely….I told them it started at 9 instead of 9:30. LOL! Sorry guys. Mr. Randall is surely proud of you all, and your devotion reflects the kind of man he was.

Ok down to business. ;) Here is my in the courtroom report:

Today there are a few more people than usual. Looks like 5 members of the accredited press, although I see 2 other people with notebooks I’m not familiar with. Three attorneys are here from the Attorney General’s office who are assisting in Knox and Whiteside County in prosecuting the homicide charges. There was a return of subpoena hearing scheduled for after the sentencing this morning, related to the murder trial, but it was changed to November 4th.

There are 2 men in the courtroom when I come in. I’m told later one is a minister from a local mission, surely they are here in support of NS. This is only the second time I have seen anyone in court besides lawyers in support of Sheley. The other was a young girl he met when they both were incarcerated at the jail. Well…make that the third, his ex-wife came to let him know she holds him accountable for the effect his actions have on their kids. I’ve heard that Sheley’s family doesn’t attend out of respect for the families of the victims. I suppose living over an hour away affects their ability to attend as well. I do know his brother and wife are in jail too, but I’ll save those details for another entry.

Sheriff David Clague takes a seat behind me and a few moments later Captain Caslin (Jail Administrator) takes his seat on the other side of the courtroom. Nicholas Sheley (NS) is brought in at 9:25 accompanied by several more sheriff officers. He is seated right away so I didn’t get a real good look at him. His Public Defender Jim Harrell (JH) is blocking my view right now. At the prosecution table is State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer (JP) and Assistant State’s Attorney Matt Kwacala (MK).

At 9:30 sharp, Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Mathers takes the bench and the hearing is under way. Judge Mathers says that the purpose of this hearing is to review the Pre-Sentence Report and the aggravating and mitigating factors related to the charges that Nicholas Sheley (NS) was convicted of on September 23 before he imposes a sentence.
Please note that things get moving pretty fast at this point so I may have missed some things that were said. I will use the initials indicated above to show who is speaking from here on out.

JH- Stands at the defense table and addresses the judge. He tells the court he would like to make a motion for a new trial saying that Nicholas Sheley has spent a lot of time in this courtroom and it is incumbent on his counsel to raise all issues for appeal and the record.

Mr. Sheley has several issues he would want the court to consider….he asserts that the self-defense alibi was not presented at trial. (Harrell makes note another time that is Sheley’s assertion , not his)


JH continues as counsel he too has several issues that were heard before the jury.
1)JH says his motion to extend shouldn‘t have been denied. He says it’s not word for word but pages 5 and 6 contain a Colloquy to Judge Morrison. (sorry I don’t have a copy of the motion for a new trial and my notes become a bit vague on the rest of this argument) Harrell continues he wants to re-raise that issue, would find the pre-trial order not approved by counsel then JH cites case law, people v. ?, extension of deadline was of significance.
The next argument has to do with a 2-part question that came from the jury. They wanted to know what they do if they can’t reach a unanimous verdict on count two ? Does that mean all of the counts are not valid? Today it was referred to as the prim or crim instruction, but when I look back at my notes from the trial it was referred to as the proposition instruction. My understanding of the instruction is :
The crime charged in each count of the indictment is a separate and distinct offense. You must decide each charge separately on the evidence and law applicable to it. The Defendant may be found guilty or not guilty of any or all of the offenses charged or included. Your finding as to each crime charged must be stated in your verdict.
2) JH says there was a question from the jury regarding the “prim or crim” instruction in regards to count 2 . JH says he is concerned that the jury thought the instruction meant they had to be unanimous on not “each” but “all” counts. The reason he feels this way is because the jury was out for nearly 4 hours deliberating and a short time after they were told to reread the “prim” instruction a verdict was rendered on all counts.
 
3) JH entered a motion during the trial that NS was not competent to testify and not incriminate himself citing People v. Lego based on an evaluation that had been done months before in the ‘08 case.. He adds that NS asked for a new evaluation in his pro se motion. (motion to represent himself)
4) JH complained that when Officer Underwood was not present at the trial, the defense was surprised. Underwood wasn’t called by the state after the jury was told he would be. When the defense requested a continuance so they could subpoena Officer Underwood it was denied and by that time it was 4:30 and the circuit office was closed so they weren’t able to get a subpoena. Underwood had inconsistent statements in the discovery and the defense would have crossed on that.
5) JH requested and was denied individual voir dire per Supreme Court rule 431B. His concern was if one of
the jurors said they had heard of Sheley 6 months before he was limited from tainting the jury by asking about crimes in another county, adding he had to exhaust all of preemptory challenges to get rid of those prospective jurors. He also said that he requested funding for an additional survey that pertained to this case and was denied so only survey was the survey related to the homicide case.
Before the trial JH said he entered a motion to dismiss the grand jury indictment because of prejudice against his client adding the case he cited was related to a race issue but if NS was labeled as charged with a homicide that was prejudicial. There was no indication the grand jury were questioned on knowledge of the murder accusation. NS was denied the voir dire process when the Grand Jury was selected
6) JH mentioned he feels the grand jury was not impartial and were not advised that they could call witnesses. The grand jury was asked to review reports, but not told they could subpoena. He said the grand jury has a right to subpoena and indicates he didn’t see anywhere in the transcript they asked to do so. He said the transcript showed the jury foreman asked, “Isn’t Johnson or Cordle here to question?”
7) JH said in paragraph 7 he asked for funding for an updated survey so he would have an affidavit to submit
with a change of venue motion. Then JH says he asked for dismissal of Juror Rogers for cause and was denied adding the panel was tainted by her comments. (This really seems to pertain more to the issue in raised in #5)
8) JH said another issue was he was not allowed to ask jurors their perception of battery. He told the court no one testified they actually saw someone hit during the incident.
(I missed part of what he said here because I flipped back in my notes to see how many did testify to that) The next thing my notes say is reserve the right to come back.???
NS is talking to Harrell . JH says NS would like the record for a new trial to include that because his attorney was appointed he was not judged fairly and feels handicapped by this.
JH summed up his request for a new trial by saying that because this was just a 3-day trial he was impressed the jury took the time that they did but feels the time may indicate they had some reasonable doubt.
JM asks the state for their response.
MK goes to the podium next to the prosecution table and addresses the court on the issues raised by the defense in the order the defense introduced them.
1) MK says the Discovery Order was set at the preliminary hearing and there was a pre-trial hearing in July. There were no issues raised at anytime until the eve of the trial so there is no merit.
2) MK- About the prim instruction and the terms of the defense objection all he said was not yet. The defense is assuming a conclusion made by the jury. The instructions are clear.
3) MK-Motion to prevent the defendant from testifying. This court ruled before the trial NS had a right to
testify. The point is moot because NS exercised his right not to testify.
4) MK- Officer Underwood was listed on the state’s witness list and the state didn’t subpoena him. The defense has the same subpoena power if Officer Underwood was so important to their case.
5) MK- Voir dire ( This is all my notes say on this point??? Sorry)
6) MK- Grand Jury Indictment, the record is clear at the beginning jurors were advised of rights to subpoena.
7) MK-Funding for new survey for change of venue on the new case….all filed on the eve of the trial and were heard.
8) MK- On page 15 the jury was instructed as to what Aggravated Battery is. This issue has no merit.
( I missed it when the defense raised this last issue, but the state’s response is self-explanatory. Officer Van Achen is a Galesburg Police Officer called in the trial to establish the chain of custody of the evidence.)
9) Officer Van Achen. This is just not true. His name was provided personally by me to the defense one week before the trial.
MK asks the court that the motion for a new trial be denied.
JM asks the defense if the have a response to the state.
JH says the state indicated in the preliminary the issue was addressed. In the prim instruction there is no need for the attorney to say I object not yet will suffice. NS is feeding JH information he wants added…..the clerks office was closed. (Sorry this is so cryptic, it’s my notes)
JM- Had opportunity to review the motion and a few more on Tuesday. First, not conceding the arguments are valid but the point is are the points not valid. (This is what my notes say sorry, sometimes this judge seems to think out loud in incomplete sentences) Denying the motion for a new trial.
JM asks JH if he has reviewed the pre-sentence investigation with NS. At this point JM jumps up and leaves the courtroom to get his copy from chambers, it takes just a second. I notice Sheley scoots in his chair and looks at the clock. It‘s 10:08.
JH says he doesn’t see any issues, adding Sheley advised him he reviewed the report at the jail and had no changes. JM asks the state if they have anything, they said no. Judge Mathers then asks a woman who has been sitting against the rail in the well,” Secretary of the Court do you have anything to bring to attention.” She says no.
The sentencing phase of the hearing begins. MK calls his first witness, Scott Cordle (SC). John Pepmeyer goes out in the hall and retrieves the witness. Cordle tells the court he has been a sergeant with the Knox County Sheriff’s office for 2.5 years and prior to that worked as a corrections officer at the Knox County jail for 2.5 years.
MK- Were you working on April 17? SC-yes
MK- Were you in the A-max pod that day? SC- yes
MK Were you in the pod during the incident? SC- yes
MK-Immediately after the incident were you in the pod? SC- yes, clearing out NS’s room.
MK- After the incident did you hear NS make statements? Who else was in the pod at that time? SC- Yes, Captain Caslin, Hanlon and McGruder were in there too but he just made a general statement not to anyone specific.
MK- describe the statements. SC- NS said, “I will kill one of you guys before I leave this fucking county.
MK- Did you include that in your report? SC- yes
MK- When did you make the report? SC- A few hours after the incident.
MK- So it was fresh in your mind? SC-yes
The state was finished.
JH- How much time passed after the incident when the statement was made? SC- 5 minutes
JH- Was he tased? Did his body receive electricity/shocks? He was taken down with the shield and 6 officers? SC- yes
JH-Was he laying down? SC-Yes, laying down and restrained.
JH- Laying down, not able to get up, move or walk? SC- Correct.
Defense has no more questions.
MK- Were the statements made as he was being restrained or after? SC- After.
JM- Does the state have any further evidence? MK- No
JM- Asks JH if he has any evidence? JH- No, just cover any evidence provided.
JM- Let’s take a 10 minute break. I look at the clock and it is 10:18.
Sheley is brought back in at 10:25 and court reconvenes at 10:30.
JM- Arguments from the state?
MK- NS is eligible for an extended term based on a prior felony conviction in the last 10 years. In 2000 he was convicted of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to 6 years. The law says with this aggravator the defendant can be sentenced to 14 years. His criminal history shows he is a very violent man back into his juvenile record. MK lists a variety of convictions in 95, 98, 99, 2000, and 2005 and says his record shows a violent pattern of behavior.
MK then recited from a list of aggravators, all I was able to get down was the first and last he read….1. Defendant caused or threatened seniors harm. 7. Sentence needed to deter others. Although he recited numbers 1 and 7 he just cited 4 aggravators from the list he was reading.
MK begins a summary of his argument. The state believes none in mitigation apply. You heard the evidence judge, this was a cold calculated planned attack. He covered the camera and the window with paper, ripped the chair apart, refused to respond to all the officers, he was lying in wait. I submit Mr. Sheley wanted to hurt someone, the second they opened that door he started throwing chair legs. His plan of action was to severely hurt at least one of the officers. Furthermore, he has shown no remorse, the threats he made after suggests further acts. The fact is the defendant is eligible for an extended term. We ask for the high range on each count and want to remind the court he isn’t eligible for probation.
Matt Kwacala sits down and Jim Harrell stands to take his turn.
JH-We can’t forget the court is rendering a just sentence for the act he was convicted of. Michael Atterberry from the Attorney General’s office entered an appearance in this case but the counts charged in the murder case should not be considered. When they say he wanted to hurt someone, don’t consider what is pending or reported in the media. There are facts of mitigation. Hardship on Mr. Sheley’s children is a mitigating factor. His children are very important. Before being incarcerated here Mr. Sheley was renting a home with his wife and children and was employed in a full-time construction job. Remember, we are not addressing incarceration for murder.
JH- The state says Mr. Sheley and Harrell knew about officer Underwood, but we weren’t notified of the
extended term in the indictment. State says NS wants to hurt someone yet Cordle testified NS said he was sorry. Sorry means didn’t mean to do it. His apology to Cordle was admitted during the trial as an admission. This was one act one crime and any sentence should be concurrent.
JH- Need to say about facts. We asked to renew the directed verdict….none of the officers were treated at a hospital or received medical treatment. The state says he is violent because he has had a weapon, a lot of people have weapons. They said he resisted officers, that’s not aggravated battery, just not obeying orders. There were only a few domestic battery charges and an unlawful restraint that was a long time ago. Yes, there are dumb convictions, like no seatbelt. I can spin like the state but you cannot sentence based on pending murder charges. We contend the minimum sentence is appropriate. Counts 1-3 are 3 years, count 4 is 365 days in county and count 5 is 1 year. We ask they all be concurrent.
JM- Does the state have rebuttal?
MK- No notice of extended term? The term is statutory as long as we’re not trying to enhance the felonies. We are asking based on the class 2 felonies. The state has never mentioned any other case.
I notice out of the corner of my eye Sheley is flexing his left hand.
JM tells Sheley he can address the court if he wishes. NS says loud and clear, I do not.
JM advises Sheley about his rights of appeal. He says NS has the right to use the clerk to prepare and file the request. He can have a transcript at no cost, furnished because he has been found to be indigent. Counsel appointed in appellate rights must be filed within 30 days. If you wish to seek to challenge the sentence you must file the motion within 30 days and include any claims of error of sentence. Any issue or claim not raised in the motion will not be considered even by the appellate court.
JM -cites People v. Morton, convictions based on the same physical act or more than 1 act in the same incident or transaction only a concurrent sentence can be imposed. He then addresses Statutory aggravating and mitigating factors. Sheley did not cause but intended to cause serious harm Finds the defendant does have a history. Sentence necessary to deter others.
JM- He will not consider any pending cases and will preclude juvenile proceedings too. Says he wants to note specifically he will only consider cases after July 1, 1997. Many of the cases that resulted in convictions were resisting arrest, he doesn’t know if violence occurred but has a problem with authority.
JM agrees with the state that this matter was pre-meditated, he laid in ambush, not to escape but to cause harm. His intent was to wreck havoc, create mayhem.
Judge Mathers then imposes the sentence.
Count 5- 1 year
Count 4- 364 days normally in county jail but since concurrent will be served in DOC.
Counts1-3 is 7 years
Kwacala reminds the court counts 1-3 include 2 year supervision. Harrell asks if sentence eligible for 50%.
Judge Mathers said that is decided by the Department of Corrections. And court is recessed.
At a custody hearing in May, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Dwayne Morrison told Sheley if he was convicted of all or more than one of these 5 charges the penalty would not exceed the maximum of the 2 most serious which would be 14 years concurrent. He also told Sheley because these alleged crimes were committed while being held in a pretrial phase on other charges the sentences would be consecutive, whichever charges he is convicted of first would be served consecutive to the other offenses.
Sheley has been held in Knox County since July 3, 2008 on a $10 million dollar bond awaiting trial on a 17 count indictment related to the death of Ronald Randall 65, Galesburg. Ten of the counts in the indictment are first-degree murder. In Illinois the penalty for first-degree murder without aggravators is 20 to 60 years in prison. Sheley faces the natural life in prison or the death penalty if convicted of killing Randall and aggravators are present.
Sphere: Related Content

Monday, September 28, 2009

Nicholas Sheley Is Guilty On all 5 Counts For Jailhouse Incident!

This is day 3 of the battery trial for Nicholas T. Sheley, 30, Sterling, IL. Sheley has been charged with 3 counts of aggravated battery, 1 count of aggravated assault and 1 count of criminal damage to property for an alleged altercation at the Knox County jail on April 17, 2009.

Sheley has been awaiting trial in the Knox County jail since July 3, 2008 for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, IL. He is also charged in the deaths of seven other people in Illinois and Missouri stemming from an alleged killing spree in late June 2008. If convicted of Randall's murder Sheley will face the death penalty. That trial is tentatively scheduled for Summer of 2010.



The jury in the battery trial won't know anything about Sheley's criminal history, why he was being held in the county jail when the incident happened or the results of two mental health evaluations done in connection to the capital case unless the defense opens the door. Yesterday the state presented their entire case in chief before Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Mathers and rested their case at the end of the day.



The big question coming into today is will Nicholas Sheley testify? Before the trial started Sheley's defense attorney, Public Defender Jim Harrell argued unsuccessfully to prevent Sheley from testifying, he said that Sheley wasn't competent to keep from incriminating himself on the stand.



At 9:15 am, Sheley was brought into the courtroom with leather bindings on his ankles and hand cuffs on his wrists. He has on the same white long sleeve button down shirt over khaki pants again today; however, today his shirttail is hanging out. His hand cuffs are removed before the jury enters.



Judge Mathers enters the courtroom right after Sheley, but has us all remain seated. That is nice, we were up and down so much the last two days in court I thought my knees would give out. The seats in the courtroom gallery are very uncomfortable, they are wooden bucket seats from the 60s or 70s much like rows of old theatre seats and your knees are above your rump when settled in.....UGH!



Jim Harrell enters a motion to continue. He said that the defense prepared a subpoena yesterday for Sheriff's deputy Underwood, but had not been able to have it served.Mathers asked the state for their response.



Knox County States Attorney John Pepmeyer says the court calendar was specific about dates...we have subpoenaed all of our witnesses.



Judge Mathers tells the defense not having a witness subpoenaed is an invalid reason to continue the case- denied.



Mathers then addresses Nicholas Sheley. Mr. Sheley, you have the right to avoid testifying and incriminating yourself just as you have the right to speak as well. The jury has been admonished they are not to consider a defendant's failure to testify. He continues, often people choose not to testify and are found not guilty. This can be a tactical decision that is up to you. You can have a chance to speak to your attorney about testifying if you wish. Sheley must have declined speaking to his attorney because he said something to the guard who cuffed him and led him out of the courtroom. Jim Harrell tells the court they discussed it last night. Minutes later Sheley is brought back in and the cuffs were removed.



The jury was brought in at 9:30 am. The judge again admonishes the jury that the defense is under no obligation to present a case but they can. With that Harrell says, yes he will ask that Nicholas Sheley be sworn in. Sheley said loudly to Harrell, you asked if I made a decision and I said yes. My decision is not to testify. Well, that's a surprise ( or a moment of clarity for Sheley? or cold feet?). There were even several representatives of the Illinois Attorney General's office here today, I'm sure they wanted to hear what he had to say too. Judge Mathers tells the jury they will need to step out a moment. Harrell tells the judge there was a miscommunication between him and his client. The judge says he will admonish the jury again.



The jury is brought back in and once they are seated again, Judge Mathers asks Harrell if he wants to present any witnesses. Harrell says no. Judge Mathers explains to the jury a miscommunication occurred , that the defendant has no obligation to testify and nothing should be inferred from his not testifying. The jury has been told from the beginning the defense must do nothing because it is assumed the defendant has done nothing. Mathers then calls a recess, telling the jury they should fill up their coffee cups and may even get a second cup.



After the jury leaves, Mathers tells those in the gallery it will take 20 to 30 minutes to get the jury instructions finished. He asks Assistant State's Attorney Matt Kwacala's administrative assistant if she has clean and dirty copies of the instructions. She says yes. Everyone leaves the courtroom except the attorneys that are sitting in the gallery, a reporter and me.....and of course Sheley's security. The state, the defense and Sheley go over the instructions. As long as Sheley is in the courtroom I will stay.



Sheley is speaking to Harrell...."I asked you about this all last week!" he continued " you said it was taken care of ".



Either Harrell or one of the attorneys for the state said, " There are 33 instructions including verdict forms ".



Sheley started ranting at Harrell......" I hope your closing arguments are better prepared than the opening and the cross examination".



Sheley clears his throat and continues," If this is the courts idea of effective representation, it's no wonder the penitentiaries are so full".



" It appears 90% of the jury knows John Pepmeyer personally or one of the officers involved," continuing, "You can call that random sampling if you want".



Harrell seems to be ignoring Sheley, of course he and the state are working on the instructions while he rants....LOL....guess I didn't get down much about the instructions. Sorry.



Here is more that the defendant had to say, " No doubt you get what you pay for here. Nothing. Then again, when you get no opportunity to make a phone call to hire private counsel , what do you expect ? "



After that Sheley said, " It's a corrupt and crooked system, you can just forget your rights if they don't want you to have the rights they claim you have. It's bullshit."



Sheley expected the jury to come back with a guilty verdict, he said, " Everyone should be happy with a guilty verdict, that was the idea all along to get me out of Knox County. Nice to know my attorney helped in that cause, might as well have the title of state's attorney. No private attorney would have done the job you did."



Sheley then turned to a reporter and said, " Let's see if you can get it accurate in there this time around "."



Then he added, " This was the roast of Jim Harrell. Pretty Funny."



Moments later, as Sheley was being cuffed to go to the holding cell, he looked at one of the men I thought was a lawyer and said, "How you doing today? Representation at it's finest." I found out the man was a private investigator for the defense.



At 10:25 Sheley was brought back in, I notice Jim Harrell moves away a bit as Sheley's cuffs are removed. (Can't say that I blame him.) As Sheley sits down he says to Harrell, " Don't have to do the closing, not going to do any good any way."



The jury is brought back in at 10:28. Judge Mathers tells the jury they will hear the closing arguments, this is where the attorneys will tell you what they think the evidence has shown and then you will find out what the law is from me.



I will give you what I have in my notes of the closing arguments for both sides, please be aware that they aren't verbatim. The state will do 1 close first then the defense and because they have the burden the state gets a second closing argument.



Matt Kwacala stands at the podium to give the state's closing arguments.




Kwacala thanks the jury on behalf of the States Attorney's office for coming to court to perform their civic duty, doing so helps the legal system work. He continued, " this opening statement is a chance for our side to tell you what we feel the evidence presented in this case shows. From what I saw of the evidence and testimony, on April 17 Nicholas Sheley had a plan to hurt someone. He was the only person in the pod, so it had to be him that covered the camera and the window. He refused to respond when informed what would happen if he didn't do so."



Kwacala reminded the jury that they saw the on the video that even before Deputy Johnston got into the pod with the shield, the chair leg came flying out of the pod. Then another hit Johnston's shield and another hit Deputy Inman in the face after it deflected off Johnston's shield and yet another chair leg hit Jason Landers.
After all this, the only weapons taken into the pod were a taser and pepper spray, and the only weapon used was the taser after Sheley was advised it would be used if he didn't comply.



Deputy Cordle testified Sheley punched him in the face, and 72 hours later Sheley apologized to him. Why apologize if not guilty? The jury will have the pictures of the injuries on the officers.



Kwacala thinks the state has proven Mr. Sheley is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to all 5 charges and goes through each count. He finishes by telling the jury that Jim Harrell tried to raise some doubt by asking questions about testing done on the chair....CSI is a popular show but you don't need finger prints or DNA, you heard what you need here. Kwacala says he is confident they will return a guilty verdict, thanks the jury and sits down.



Jim Harrell gives his closing statement from his seat at the defense table. Here it is:



When selected to be on the jury we talked to you about inconsistencies. I told you officers would tell you stories with inconsistencies. Harrell comments he noticed a few of the jury has used their notepads, he tells them to check...McGruder testified Stewart Inman was behind Landers but now they say he was hit when the pipe deflected off the shield. Johnston and Landers said they were going around the table. Harrell says he didn't see anyone yell on the video.



This was 6 men with a shield and stun gun ganging up like a football team who went into his cell ( NS holds up 7 fingers to the jury....is he disputing the count of officers ? hmmm or just using a visual aid) ....Harrell continues.... like the Dallas Cowboy frontline. Landers testified it only took about 1 1/2 minutes to take Mr. Sheley down, I would think so with a taser. I would think not, you saw his size. (I think he is implying Landers is about the size of a front lineman and didn't need the taser.) Harrell then poses a series of questions and comments that seem to imply the scene was staged:



Where are the papers that are alleged were on the camera and windows? Why didn't you see those?



Go back and listen to the tape and think what you heard in and out of the pod.



What I'm saying is...6 different stories.



Why no DNA testing on the chair?



Who testified they saw Nicholas Sheley take the chair apart?



Why just throw legs? Why not beat the tar out of one of them?



The judge has a role, the state has a role, and I have a role, Nicholas Sheley has no role. If you don't like me, don't hold it against him.



They stormed that cell... because he did what.... failed to do what? Let me ask....how could he hide 4 chair legs in those boxer shorts....they didn't see those legs when they looked in the chuck hole...they were not seen by those officers...dissect your notes....there is clearly and unequivocally reasonable doubt.



Matt Kwacala steps back up to the podium for his second close.



Folks use common sense. What orders did Nicholas Sheley get? Take down the paper, he refused, he baited them. He had 4 chair legs and was going to hurt someone.



Mr. Harrell didn't see NS cover the camera??? He must have been watching a different video than us. You saw the video, after they removed the paper did you see any retribution or beating? They didn't even tase him until he had already hurt 3 officers. Mr. Sheley is guilty.



Judge Mathers says court will reconvene at 11:05 (8 minutes), telling the jury he knew they hadn't been out there long but after this short break they receive a lot of legal information.



Sheley is cuffed and led out of the court room. When he is brought back in a few minutes later he says to no one in particular....In all the surveys of judges, Mr. Mathers is rated the lowest in Knox County. (Whatever, Sheley must have thought Harrell did ok on his close so now he will turn on the judge.) No one responds.



The jury is brought back in at 11:08 and Judge Mathers reads the jury instructions to them. Sheley is watching the jury, he looks around the gallery and then takes a drink before staring off. I will spare us all the 33 instructions, they were all basic instructions. The jury takes the instructions with them as they are excused to deliberate at 11:30. The judge calls 2 jurors back and tells them they were alternates and are excused.



After the alternates leave, Jim Harrell tells the judge that even though he made a motion for directed verdict at the close of the state's case he usually does so again at the close of his case. He wanted to be certain it is noted for the record.
John Pepmeyer addresses the court, he says that he would remit the jury review all of the evidence, the chair frame, chair legs, chair seat (I may not have mentioned this steel frame seat was folded like a taco.) and if the jury request it, the video. Judge Mathers says lets deal with that if we get a request.



Jim Harrell has a few concerns, does the jury know they can send a note out if the want evidence? He also has concerns about them having the jagged items in the small jury room for security reasons, adding if anyone was hurt it would be on the county. Secondly he doesn't want any reenactments being done.



John Pepmeyer responds the jurors are adults. Judge Mathers responds F1,F2,F3 (chair parts) will not go back. Mathers then tells the gallery that they will let us know when the jury takes it's lunch.



At 12:10 the bailiff comes to the court clerk. The jury has a question. The judge, attorneys, court reporter and Sheley go into the witness room off the courtroom. They are back out 2 minutes later.



The jury takes lunch from 12:30 to 1:30. At 1 :37 the jury has another question and the same procedure as above takes place. This time when Sheley comes out of the holding cell his shirt sleeves are pushed up and he appears to be sweating. It must be warm in that holding cell...that or he is stressed...most likely both. They are back out in 2 minutes again.



I ask Shirley Pringle (KCVRA) if she knows what the questions were, she says no, it is on a need to know basis. I think it has more to do with the jury being able to hear discussion in the courtroom. This is an old building and the jury room is just on the other side of the door.



At 2:19 there is another question, this time when Sheley comes out his sleeves are up and his shirt is open, showing his wife beater shirt underneath. Evidently they have decided to address the jury in the courtroom on this question, so Sheley steps out and comes back with his shirt buttoned up... the deputy removes his cuffs.



The jury is brought in at 2:35. Mathers expresses confusion as to their question, he says the jury wondered what it should do if they couldn't reach a unanimous agreement on count 2- the aggravated battery against deputy Scott Cordle-whom Sheley is accused of punching in the face. Mathers tells the jury the answer to that is in the proposition instruction 1 of the jury instructions. The jury had a second part to their question-if they can't reach a verdict on count 2 does that mean all the counts are not valid? Judge Mathers instructs the jury that each count stands alone and they must return to reach a unanimous verdict on each count. the jury returned to deliberate further at 2:40.



At 3:30 we were notified there was a verdict. Harrell takes a seat against the gallery rail several chair lengths from Sheley. The law enforcement officers have kept a low profile throughout the proceedings, but now they surround Sheley. Sheley comments to Harrell, "I can move over a little more if it makes you more secure." Harrell ignores him.



The jury files back in. There seems to be a larger group of people who are sitting in for the verdict. As the court clerk reads the verdict of guilty on each of the 5 counts Nicholas Sheley remains quiet and taps his thumbs on his right hand on his chair and is tapping his left fingers on the table.



Kwacala addresses the court. he moves for the bond to be revoked and a pre-sentence investigation be done.
October 30 is set for sentencing.



Here is a rundown of the charges and the possible penalties:



Three counts of Aggravated Battery for allegedly hitting with fists or throwing legs off a chair.
Aggravated Battery is a class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison, mandated supervised release of 2 years and a $25,000 fine.



One count Aggravated Assault attempted to hit Michael Johnson.
Aggravated Assault is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in County jail and a $2500 fine.



Criminal Damage to property for damaging chair valued no greater than $500.
Class 4 felony punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison.



At an earlier hearing, Knox County Circuit Court Judge Dwayne Morrison told Sheley
if convicted of all or more than one of these 5 charges the penalty would not exceed the maximum of the 2 most serious which would be 14 years. So from my calculations that would be a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 14 years that Sheley is facing



Morrison also informed Sheley that because these alleged crimes were committed while being held in a pretrial phase on other charges the sentences would be consecutive, whichever charges he is convicted of first would be served consecutive to the other offenses. He will be gone for a long time if not forever. While I try to keep my personal feelings to myself for the most part, I say good riddance!


Day two

Day one
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nicholas Sheley Battery Trial, Day Two.

The case in brief
Nicholas Sheley, 30, of Sterling, IL is accused of going on a two-week killing spree, in late June 2008, that left 8 people dead in 2 states. Sheley has been held in the Knox County jail since July 3, 2008, awaiting trial on charges in the beating death of Ronald Randall, 65, Galesburg, IL. He faces the death penalty if convicted. That trial is expected to be held in the summer of 2010.

Sheley was indicted on three counts of aggravated battery and one count each of aggravated assault and criminal damage to property stemming from an incident at the Knox County jail on April 17, 2009. The indictment accuses Sheley of attacking correctional officers with the metal legs he took off a chair in a maximum security day area and punching a sheriff’s Deputy in the face. That is what this trial is about.

Before jury selection began on Monday September 21, Nicholas Sheley’s public defender, Jim Harrell, argued a motion which would bar Sheley from testifying on his own behalf. Harrell said Sheley could not intellectually or knowingly waive his right to testify or agree to testify without incriminating himself in his capital murder case. He based this on a psychological evaluation done by Dr. Hanlon in the capital case. Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Mathers denied the motion and said it was up to Sheley whether he testifies or not. The rest of the day was spent in voir dire of 47 potential jurors before finding 9 women and 5 men who were qualified to sit on the jury.

" The First Day of Testimony"
Tuesday, September 22


I get to the courtroom about a half hour early today. Right after I take my normal seat in the second row behind the prosecution table, the Assistant States Attorney, Matt Kwacala comes in and arranges some paperwork at the state's table. Kwacala and State's Attorney John Pepmeyer will share the task of prosecuting this case.

You can feel the nervous tension in the room today, even though the state seems to have a strong case against Sheley, the vibe is different from the pre-trial hearings. Some men in suits are standing around. After I look closer I realize these are some of the Sheriff's deputies who normally escort Sheley to court, they clean up pretty well, but I wonder who is escorting Sheley today.

A uniformed Galesburg Police Officer comes in and speaks to Matt Kwacala. He is pushing a cart with what looks like evidence bags on it. They speak a bit and then Kwacala pushes the cart over to the side of his table which happens to be close to my seat. When Sheley's attorney, Public Defender Jim Harrell, comes in Kwacala waves him over and shows him the evidence cart. I hear him say one of the sealed paper sacks has the chair legs, one has the chair seat and he points out the chair frame sitting next to the cart on the floor with a tag on it. He also shows Harrell a few clear bags with CD's from jail security cameras in them and one with a screw from the chair. Harrell doesn't say much, he just goes over to the defense table and puts down some paperwork.

Ninth Circuit Judge Stephen Mathers comes in and discusses logistics with Harrell, Kwacala and the court reporter. There is a large approximately 52" flat screen TV on a cart against the wall across from the jury box. They are making sure the podium and court reporter's seat won't block the jury's view of the TV. Looks like we are good to go.

At 9:05 Sheley is brought into the courtroom. He is wearing the same khaki pants as yesterday but has a white long sleeve button down shirt today. I wonder if these clothes are courtesy of his attorney, it's obvious by the creases the shirt today and yesterday were fresh from a package. He has white socks and the orange jail issue sandals on along with leather strap type shackles. One of the deputies in a suit takes the handcuffs off Sheley and takes a seat on a wooden chair right behind Sheley. It's unclear at this point if the security has on suits today because they are testifying or if it is just to "de-emphasis" the amount of security so as not to prejudice the jury.

Judge Mathers calls court to order and asks if there is anything before the jury is brought in. Jim Harrell says he would like to renew the motion to fund a survey for a change of venue motion previously filed. Mathers acts a bit confused at first as to why Harrell would even bring this up and then says, "Motions duly noted, but a jury has been seated." I look back in my notes, when the motion was originally made and denied Harrell asked to renew after trial started. He must just want to get it on the record.

Mathers tells the bailiff to bring in the jury. The jury is sworn in by the clerk at 9:10 am. Judge Mathers then explains the stages of a trial to the jury. The stages are: jury selection, opening arguments, evidence presented through testimony and exhibits, closing arguments, the jury is given the law (jury instructions) and then they deliberate. Mathers adds that the opening statements allow both parties to tell the jury what they think the evidence will show. Like a road map, you can get a feel for where we are going but these statements are not evidence. Mathers tells the state they may start.

Matt Kwacala moves up to the podium and gives the opening for the state. After introducing himself and Pepmeyer he tells the jury that on April 17, 2009 Nicholas Sheley was an inmate at the Knox County Law Enforcement Center. Sheley was staying in a pod that had 4 cells and a common day room. Sheley was the only prisoner being housed in the A-max pod on that day. (What he didn't tell the jury was Sheley was being held in solitary after previously attacking prisoners on several occasions or the reason Sheley is in the county jail.)

Kwacala continued that just before 2 pm on that day correction's officer Wesley McGruder noticed the camera in A-max pod used for monitoring the pod had been obscured. McGruder notified superiors who sent a deputy to check a window to the pod and found the window was covered with newspaper from the inside. There was an attempt to contact Sheley through the intercom but they received no response. Deputies then gathered in the hallway outside the pod and the chuck hole in the door(used to pass food trays into pod) was unlocked. Deputy Stewart Inman looked into the chuck hole and saw Sheley crouched down without a shirt on. Inman ordered Sheley to go to his cell and again received no response.

The officers decided they must follow protocol and enter the pod get Sheley back to his cell. They have to be able to monitor the pods for the safety of the inmates and the officers. As the door opens Sheley stands up and throws a metal chair leg at the officers. The first officer to enter, deputy Michael Johnston, had a shield so when Sheley threw another leg at him it deflected off the shield and hit deputy Inman who was next coming in. After Sheley threw the last 2 chair legs, Johnston was able to pin Sheley against the wall with the shield.
(My notes on the opening statements don't include anything about Jason Landers, he was also struck by a chair leg and his arm was badly bruised. I think I just missed writing it down because one of the aggravated battery charges is for that allegation so I'm sure he was mentioned. Landers also carried the taser into the pod and fired at Sheley, but the leads hit Johnston's shield so it wasn't effective. Landers then handed the taser over to Captain David Caslin.) Sheley continued to struggle and punched deputy Scott Cordle in the face with his fist. After Sheley was dry tasered once by Captain Caslin, he complied. Kwacala told the jury they will see the chair legs from the chair inside the pod. The jury will see the chair and the state feels certain they will find Sheley guilty.


Jim Harrell then begins the opening statement for the defense from his seat at the defense table. Harrell tells the jury the defense has a different theory from the state. The testimony will be from corrections officers....officers who all punch the same time clock, and take their breaks together.
Harrell continues, as you take this journey, ask yourselves do all the pieces fit? We contend there are pieces missing. The officers will have basically the same story, remember they all work together. He tells the jury they may hear from Mr. Sheley and reminds them they promised to listen to all the evidence and not give more weight to the testimony of the officers just because they wear a badge.

Judge Mathers tells the jury the state will now present their case in chief. With that Matt Kwacala says the state will call Galesburg police officer, Sargent Paul Van Achen.

Jim Harrell asks the court to exclude the witnesses from the courtroom. Mathers says granted and about a half dozen people leave the courtroom and go to a room across the hall.

It was very hard to get down all of the questions and answers exactly because things move so fast. I will just give a summary for each of the state's witnesses direct questioning and cross by defense. Six of the witnesses were in the pod during the incident and so their testimony is pretty similar. Here we go:

Witness #1 Galesburg Police Department (GPD) Sergeant Paul Van Achen (sp)
Direct- Van Achen testified he is in charge of preserving the chain of custody and storing evidence for the GPD and the Knox County Sheriff's Office (KCSO). Evidence is brought to him by officers involved in a given case, already sealed in a bag and tagged. His job is to verify the information on the tag and put the evidence in an evidence locker or property room( if too large for a locker) until it is brought to court. There are only 3 people with access to the evidence storage. Kwacala shows Van Achen each of the evidence bags to verify they have not been breached, identify who tagged the evidence and when it was brought to the evidence storage. Kwacala then has him open the evidence bags one by one to identify the contents and put them back in the evidence bags.


Cross- Harrell asked if there was powder on the chair legs? Van Achen says the bags were sealed when he got them so he couldn't say. Harrell asked if the tags indicate the evidence was sent to a crime lab or had any testing. Van Achen says no. Sheley and Harrell whisper back and forth during this questioning.

Witness#2 Knox County Corrections Officer Wesley McGruder
Direct- John Pepmeyer handled the state's questioning of McGruder, who testified he works the control room where he monitors the cameras in the pods, hallways, library, kitchen and outside. McGruder described his recollection of the incident that day, he was the first to notice the camera was blocked in A max pod, he testified after trying to contact Sheley via intercom he notified Stewart Inman. McGruder testified he eventually switched places with someone and joined the others in the hall and was the last to enter the pod during the incident. Because he was the last to enter he was in the position to see most of the incident.

Cross- Jim Harrell questioned McGruder as to why he left the control room [found a replacement]. Did he have to hold a button down to speak to Sheley on the intercom? [yes] Could he see Sheley? [no] How many corrections officers entered the pod? [6] What weapons did they have? [one had a taser] What is a taser? [McGruder had a little problem describing a taser] Did they have pepper spray? [no]
Harrell seemed to spend a lot of time on the cross of McGruder. The way he questioned McGruder seemed to imply that Sheley couldn't hear them ordering him to his cell and that they stormed the pod without cause. McGruder is a young guy and very nervous while testifying, I felt sorry for him.

Re-direct- Pepmeyer's questions clarified McGruder wasn't certified to use the taser, he didn't see anyone using pepper spray on Sheley and he left the control room because it was part of his job to assist and ensure the safety of the inmates.

At this point Judge Mathers told the jury we would take a break. He admonished the jury not to discuss the case at all. After the jury leaves the courtroom Jim Harrell asked the judge if some order had been signed. Mathers said, "We are in recess Mr. Harrell" after saying that Mathers got up and left the courtroom. I didn't note the time we were recessed but we were told to be back at 10 am. Sheley was handcuffed and led out of the courtroom to a holding cell.

At 9:55 Sheley was brought back in and the cuffs were removed. Judge Mathers called court to order at 10 and the jury was brought back in.

Witness#3 Knox County Sheriff's Deputy Stewart Inman
Direct- Inman told Matt Kwacala he is a federal transport deputy and he also transports prisoners for the county. He has been doing this job for 7 years, prior to that he was with the US Marshall for 27 years.( Inman has been one of the officers accompanying Sheley to court every hearing) In response to questions from Kwacala, Inman testified on April 17 after he was alerted to the situation in A-max pod by McGruder he went to the pod and saw that the window had also been covered with newspaper. Inman then notified Sergeant Scott Cordle and they both went to the patrol section of the building and notified Captain David Caslin then went back to the A-max pod to wait for orders.


When Caslin came with Johnston and Landers, Caslin tried to communicate with Sheley through the door but got no response. Inman said he unlocked the chuck hole and looked in the pod, he could see Sheley crouched down in the common area wearing just boxers. Again he tried to communicate with Sheley and got no response. Sheley was advised if he didn't comply they would come in. Inman's testimony was consistent with Kwacala's opening . Inman identified state's evidence F1, F2, and F3 as the legs seat and frame to the chair that was used by Sheley. He also identified pictures C1 and C2 of the injuries he sustained to his face. Inman’s direct testimony was concluded by telling the court he saw Scott Cordle get punched in the face by Sheley, but didn't see any of the other's injuries until after Sheley was subdued because they were all behind him.

Cross- James Harrell’s questions of Inman about his actions that day as though trying to identify inconsistencies. The tone of the defense cross seems to imply that Sheley was provoked. It seems as though Sheley keeps feeding Harrell questions he wants him to ask. Harrell asks where Inman was standing when he was hit? [by the door] Were there officers around Sheley ? [ Inman says Sheley was on the other side of the picnic table.] Harrell waits as Sheley is piddling with some papers for a good minute prompting the judge to ask,” are you done?” Harrell said that’s it.

Re-direct- Kwacala asks had anyone touched Mr. Sheley when Inman was hit? Inman says no.


Witness # 4 Knox County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Johnston
Direct- John Pepmeyer conducted the direct examination of Deputy Johnston, in response to questions by Pepmeyer, Johnston said he was directed by Captain Caslin to come over to the jail side of the Knox County Law Enforcement Center about 2:00 on April 17. Caslin told him they were having a problem with an inmate. Johnston testified that Caslin told Sheley to remove the covering from the camera and the window and return to his cell or they would have to enter and subdue him, if he resisted he would be tasered. Sheley didn’t respond so they entered the pod. Johnston said he entered the A-max pod first because he has training to use the Knox County jail protective shield. He described the shield as a 2x4 concave plastic shield with “SHERIFF” in large letters across the front. The proper use of the shield is to close the subject and pin to the wall.


Johnston said when the door opened a chair leg came flying at him. He said he yelled, “Sheriff’s Department, get down, get down, get down.” Another leg hit the shield and then the door, he could hear the ping of the metal hitting metal. Sheley was standing on the other side of the table. When they went around the table another leg hit his shield and after he saw Sheley throw the last leg he pushed him against the wall with the shield, then Sheley squatted. Johnston said he didn’t see anyone else being hit because he was in front and his concentration was on getting control of a still struggling Sheley. Johnston testified the next thing he remembers seeing was Captain Caslin approach with the taser already suspended. Caslin was warning Sheley if he didn’t comply he would be stunned, Sheley didn’t comply so he was stunned on the stomach area.

Cross- Harrell kept the cross of Johnston short. He wanted to know if anything was thrown when they first entered. After Johnston said 2 legs, Harrell asked in a surprised tone, “and you still proceeded?” Johnston replied,“ After the 4th leg I pinned him with the shield. There were a few other questions that Johnston couldn’t answer because they concerned people who were behind him.

Witness #5 Knox County Sergeant Scott Cordle
Direct-
Matt Kwacala questioned Sergeant Cordle. Cordle’s testimony was consistent with the testimony of the previous witnesses. A few points that were remarkable in his testimony was that he was out of uniform that day because he was in covering a vacation for Carpenter who wears casual clothes in his position. Cordle said he has had previous contact with Sheley while in uniform so it wasn‘t as if Sheley didn‘t know him. He said Sheley looked him straight in the eye and punched him in the face. Kwacala had Cordle identify state’s evidence # D1and D2 which were pictures of his nose and upper lip taken after the incident. Sergeant Cordle also testified Sheley was on a 72 hour lock down after the incident. He said he escorted Sheley to the shower where Sheley apologized to Cordle, something to the effect of you took the brunt of it.


Cross- Harrell asked Cordle if he was rushing Sheley when he was punched in face? Cordle said no I was still. Harrell asked was he pinned when he struck you? Cordle said no he was standing.
Sheley was speaking to Harrell in a very animated manner from where I was sitting all I could here was the last 2 words,” THAT”S BULLSHIT!” I later found out that he was scolding Harrell for ending the cross-examination without asking the questions that Sheley had requested, citing 15 different inconsistencies that, he said, Harrell should have noted.
The judge was telling the jury court would recess until 1:15 for lunch when Sheley was chewing out Harrell and they were seated further away than me, so I don’t think they heard.
Sheley was brought back into the courtroom at 1:20. I notice he won’t make eye contact with Harrell. At 1:24 court is back in session. The people called Deputy Dennis Davison.

Witness #6 Knox County Sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Davison
Direct-
John Pepmeyer examines Deputy Davison. He establishes that Davison was not involved in the incident. Davison gathered the evidence from the pod after the incident. Pepmeyer questioned whether the chair parts were inside a cell. Davison said yes, A-max pod. He turned the evidence over to Sergeant Jason Landers of Investigations.

Cross- Harrell questions whether Davison tested the chair pieces for fingerprints or hair. Davison said no to both. He asks were all the chair parts found in side the cell? Was one leg outside the door? Davison responded three pieces were inside and one outside the door. Harrell says so what you said on direct was incorrect?

Re-direct- Pepmeyer asked Davison did you put the chair in the evidence vault? Davison gave to Sergeant Jason Landers who placed bags on the chair legs because they were sharp.

Pepmeyer calls Sargeant Jason Landers.

Witness # 7 Knox County Sergeant Jason Landers
Direct- John Pepmeyer continued the direct examination with Sergeant Landers. Once again Lander's testimony was similar to the other law enforcement so I won't repeat it all, but will note a few things about his testimony. Jason Landers wasn't in uniform but he did have his badge on his belt. Landers testified he had the taser gun going in, but gave to Captain Caslin after it failed to stun Sheley and helped to physically restrain Sheley. Landers explained once a taser is deployed it can be reloaded or used as a dry taser, making contact directly with the target. He said after Sheley was pinned down and Caslin dry tased him, Sheley said, "I'm done!" and allowed the shackles to be put on. Landers identified states evidence A2-A7 as pictures of his injuries. Pepmeyer had all of the states evidence except the video tapes from the jail admitted through Jason Landers's testimony because he was responsible for photographing, bagging and tagging the evidence and turning it over to Sergeant Paul Van Achen of the Galesburg Police department.

Cross- Jim Harrell went through all of the photo exhibits of the A-max pod, cameras and hallway before questioning Landers on the sequence of events during the incident and after. IMO, the most interesting question he asked Landers was where was the evidence kept between the incident on 4/17 and when it was turned over to GPD on 4/21. Landers said it was in a locker at the Sheriff's office. Only Sheriff, Clague, Captain Caslin and the investigators had access during that time.

Re-direct- Pepmeyer asked if there was any difference in the evidence from the day he took it to the GPD and now. Landers replied, it was sealed when I turned it over.

Judge Mathers calls a 15 minute break. Court back in session at 2:50. Matt Kwacala calls the last witness of the state's case, Captain David Caslin.

Witness # 8 Knox County Sheriff's department Captain David Caslin
Direct- Caslin is 2nd in command of the Knox County Sheriff's office who oversees the courthouse, jail, patrol and investigations. Kwacala had Caslin go through the events on the day of 4/17. Kwacala asked Caslin to put a price on the chair that Sheley is accused of destroying. he said about $50.00. Kwacala asked some logistical questions about surveillance. Caslin explained there are 32 cameras throughout the jail, all motion sensitive. From the control room 4 monitors can be watched at a time. The Sheriff, Captain and Lt. Carpenter's offices are routed to watch through DVR and are recorded.

Caslin explained that he burned a DVD from A-max pod and the hallway on 4/17. The DVD was admitted as people's G. The prosecutors started showing the DVD on the big screen TV with Caslin narrating until Harrell objected to the narration. Judge mathers sustained the objection so we watched the video in silence. The video starts with Nicholas Sheley coming out of his cell fully dressed into the dayroom and going directly to the camera and covering it. Most of the video was of the correction officers in the hallway before they entered the pod and after cleaning out Sheley's cell. Besides the shot of Sheley covering the camera the most damning part in my mind was when they opened the door to the A-max pod and a chair leg came flying out before they even entered. So much for self defense. Geesh!

The state rested their case. The judge dismissed the jury at 4:00 and advised to return at 9:30 tomorrow morning. After the jury leaves Harrell makes a motion for a directed verdict. (Which means the state has failed to prove their case.) The judge denies the motion. Harrell then asked if the state could be sure that Deputy Underwood will be here tomorrow? The state responds it's not on them to have him here. The state had Underwood on their witness list but decided not to use him. Evidently Harrell didn't subpoena Underwood because he thought the state would have him here. oops. Court is recessed until 9:15 tomorrow morning. Wednesday, September 23. Stay tuned.....it was quite a day! Sphere: Related Content