Thursday, January 15, 2009

Judge OK's Search of Sheley's Cell - Details of Third Jail Altercation Undisclosed

Susan Kaufman a reporter for the Register-Mail in Galesburg, IL reported today that an emergency hearing was held today at the Knox County Courthouse in relation to another incident at the Knox County jail involving accused spree killer, Nicholas Sheley. I wasn't aware of the hearing or the incident, so of course I didn't attend. Because of the gag order in this case there has been little information released about these jailhouse incidents with Sheley. Thankfully Susan attended, below is a copy of Susan's report as it appeared today on the web site for the Register - Mail :

The Register-Mail
Posted Jan 15, 2009 @ 03:11 PM

A Sterling man being held in the Knox County jail on several murder charges in connection with the death of a Galesburg man will have his jail cell searched after an alleged altercation with another inmate.The incident, which authorities did not disclose in court Thursday, marked the third jailhouse altercation involving Nicholas Sheley since he has been housed in the facility since July 2008.

On July 20, Sheley allegedly pulled a metal safety bar off the wall and attempted to attack another inmate. Sometime in late October, Sheley was involved in an unspecified incident brought up during a court hearing. No details were released about the second incident.

Records at the Galesburg Fire Department confirmed rescue personnel were dispatched to the Knox County jail at 2:27 p.m. Sunday after reports of an inmate losing consciousness and coughing after allegedly being choked. The victim, a 21-year-old male Federal inmate, was transported by Galesburg Hospitals Ambulance service to an unspecified area hospital and was treated and released.

It was not clear, however, if that incident involved Sheley. Authorities are under a gag order and would not comment about the incident.

An emergency court hearing was held in Knox County Circuit Court at 1:30 today to hear a motion filed by Sheley’s defense attorneys Jim Harrell and Jeremy Karlin. At issue was a search warrant issued Wednesday granting authorities permission to search Sheley’s cell in connection with possible new charges related to the jail incident.

Sheley was removed from that cell and into another but his belongings and personal effects remain in his former cell. The door has been taped and security cameras are fixed on the door to that cell to ensure no tampering with potential evidence.

Karlin argued the search would violate Sheley’s rights if other materials such as those related to his defense, potential witnesses or communication with other attorneys. He said it isn’t a privacy issue but rather a protection of his rights as a defendant to have a fair trial. “This is a capital murder case,” Karlin said. “I bet you all the money in my pocket ... that crime (the jail incident) will be presented in this particular case.”

Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer suggested the search warrant should be executed with the following stipulations: the process is videotaped; all inventory is properly logged; a representative of the defendant is present; and provide an in-camera inspection by the court. Pepmeyer argued Sheley has no rights to privacy and search warrants are essential.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart denied the motion by the defense to quash the search warrant. “I am not a mediator,” said Stewart. “I am not going to micromanage the jail.” He said Sheriff David Clague is in charge of the security and safety and he should be allowed to control the jail as he sees fit.

Sheley was found fit to stand trial but questions remain on whether he is fit to act as his own attorney. A hearing on that matter is scheduled Jan. 30.

Sheley faces 17 counts, including 10 counts of first degree murder in the death of Ronald Randall of Galesburg. He also is facing first-degree murder charges in Whiteside county and Missouri in connection with a killing spree that left eight people dead. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

The picture of Sheley, above, is from a jailhouse interview that Sheley did with the Associated Press in September. Because of this interview and a phone interview that Sheley gave to WQAD in the Quad Cities the next day, the prosecution and defense requested that Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart issue the gag order to halt pre-trial publicity. Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry told the court "Both parties want to maintain fairness and integrity of the proceedings" he added that Sheley's interviews had threatened the proceedings. Stewart agreed.
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  1. katfish,
    I've been following your coverage of the case from the get-go. This guy is truely evil and I don't understand why his jail cell is an area where local LE can't have any control! It's ludicrous.

    Thanks for keeping us posted!

  2. I wish I had an answer for you on that Ritanita.
    It sounds as though the judge is going to allow the sheriff to take control of this situation....we have a new county jail, so I'm sure the facility has a segregation least I would hope it does....he's going to end up killing someone else. There is a hearing on Jan. 30 where it should be determined if Sheley will be allowed to represent himself....hopefully this episode will rule that out. I'm not a lawyer or a doctor, but according to the way I read Indiana v. Edwards and the criteria set forth in the fitness order this guy is NO WAY competent to represent himself. Crazy Mean!