Monday, April 27, 2009

New Charges, New Trial *Starring Nicholas Sheley* Representing Himself ?

Nicholas Sheley mugshot

Nicholas Sheley is a 29 year old Illinois man accused of a killing spree last June that resulted in the deaths of eight people in 2 states. He has been held at the Knox County Jail, in Galesburg, IL, since the beginning of July. Sheley is being held on a $10 million dollar bond facing charges for the death of Ronald Randall of Galesburg.

Katfishponders reported last week here that new charges had been filed against Sheley for an incident at the jail on April 17. There have been two hearings on these charges since that entry was posted. I wasn't able to attend these hearings so this information was taken from articles written by Susan Kaufman in The Register-Mail.

At a custody hearing, on April 23, in Knox County Circuit Court, Judge Dwayne Morrison set an additional bond of $250,000 for the five new charges against Sheley. Morrison also appointed public defender Jim Harrell to represent Sheley on the charges. Harrell already is co-counsel with Jeremy Karlin in Sheley’s murder proceedings.

In arguing probable cause, Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer told Morrison a correctional officer in the video control room at the jail saw Sheley cover a surveillance camera and window with newspaper at about 2:45 p.m. Friday, April 17. After attempts to talk to Sheley failed, a crew of four or five correctional officers and deputies went into the common area to retrieve Sheley.

The criminal complaint states Sheley was sitting at a table wearing only his boxer shorts and was ordered to remain seated. As the officers approached, Sheley hurled metal chair legs at the men, striking two in the face. Sheley also is accused of striking one of the correctional officers in the face with his fist. Although officers were injured during the incident, none required medical treatment.

Sheley is charged with three counts of aggravated battery to a correctional officer, one count of aggravated assault and one count of criminal damage to governmental property stemming from the April 17 incident.

At the conclusion of Thursday’s hearing, Sheley told Morrison he did not want Harrell to represent him on the new charges. “I wish to represent myself,” Sheley said via video monitor. Morrison told Sheley he would need to make that request at his first appearance scheduled April 27.

In September 2008, wanted to fire his court appointed attorneys and represent himself in his murder trial. After numerous court hearings and several motions concerning his self-representation, in January 2009, Sheley eventually withdrew his request and opted to keep his lawyers.

In most custody hearings, defendants are seated in a room at the Knox County jail and are read the charges, possible punishments and given their next court date by a judge viewing the defendant on a video monitor. In subsequent hearings, defendants in custody are transported by correctional officers to their appearances in the courthouse. However, Morrison ruled Sheley’s next court appearance will again take place via video. “It is for the protection of the jailers, the transportation personnel and even your protection,” Morrison told Sheley.

At the hearing on April 27, Sheley's first appearance with court appointed public defender Jim Harrell, Sheley again told Judge Dwayne Morrison that he wants to represent himself on the five new charges.

Morrison warned Sheley that representing himself in this case was not in Sheley’s best interest, but did not make a ruling. “A trial in this case could be ahead of the other case,” Morrison told Sheley via video monitor. “If you are convicted of these charges it could be used against you in the other trial.”

At the next hearing, scheduled for 3 p.m. May 4, Morrison will review the new charges and possible penalties if Sheley is convicted. Morrison also will schedule a preliminary hearing at that time. Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer was asked to inform the court before the next hearing if any aggravated sentencing factors apply.

Supreme Court rules demand Sheley appear in court in person for his next hearing rather than by video conference.

Attorneys for Sheley in the murder case have filed a change of venue motion claiming Sheley cannot get a fair trial in Knox County because of pre-trial publicity. That matter and the constitutionality of the death penalty will be argued at a hearing at 9:30 a.m. May 29. If convicted in the murder case Sheley will face the death penalty.


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Stacey Barker First Claimed Daughter Kidnapped, Then Led Police to Body Claiming an Accident , Now Charged With Murder-UPDATE 2!

Stacey Barker mugshot
This is the latest being reported:

"At this point, as best as we can determine, the infant died through suffocation at the hands of the mother," Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Pat Nelson said. "After her third or fourth version of events, we knew she wasn't telling the truth."

Detectives arrested Barker last Thursday because of "indications she might flee or disappear," Nelson said.

Please remember to light a candle for Emma. Link below

The arraignment for Stacey Barker was postponed. Barker will be arraigned on May 11 at the Lancaster courthouse.
The charges filed against the young mother include murder, assault on a child causing death and child abuse.
The complaint alleges that Barker willfully caused and permitted the child to be injured and harmed and that injury resulted in death.

Click here to light a candle for EMMA!

Katfishponders first reported here about this sweet little girl named Emma Leigh Barker about a month ago when she went missing. This video is from that time.

Emma's mother, Stacey Barker,24, was arrested today, Thursday, April 23 on suspicion of her daughter's murder.

Barker initially told deputies her daughter, 18-month-old Emma, was abducted from her car in the parking lot of a Lancaster, CA park on March 18th. She claimed she was knocked out by the kidnapper and woke up six hours later, several miles away at the Palmdale Park-n-Ride.
Detectives said Barker had injuries consistent with a struggle, including bruises on her head and was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Barker later admitted making up the abduction story. She said the little girl died accidentally, causing her to panic and leave the girl's body near the freeway.

The child's body was found 12 hours later, dumped in a grassy lot near the Golden State Freeway in Sylmar, CA. Authorities said it appeared the girl's 25-pound body had been dumped sometime over the last 24 hours and showed no visible signs of trauma.

The results of an autopsy on child have not been disclosed, although the coroner could not determine the cause of death from the initial autopsy.

Barker was arrested at a home in Lancaster where she and Emma lived with her parents and brother. She is being held on $1 Million bail and is expected to be arraigned Monday, April 27.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oops He Did It Again! Nicholas Sheley Charged for Jail Battery

Despite being held in isolation at the Knox County Jail, Nicholas Sheley still found a way to attack more people.

Susan Kaufman of the Register-Mail in Galesburg, IL reported today that two counts of aggravated battery to a correctional officer and two counts of aggravated battery to law enforcement officials and one count of criminal damage to governmental property were filed against Nicholas Sheley in Knox County Circuit Court Wednesday after an incident Friday at the Knox County jail.

Sheley has been involved in at least three other incidents at the jail since being housed at the facility July 2008.

According to Kaufman, Knox County Sheriff David Clague said on Friday at about 2:45 p.m., Sheley covered the video camera in the maximum security day room area. Correctional officers attempted to communicate with Sheley and ordered him back into his cell. After receiving no response from Sheley, correctional officers entered the area for the safety of Sheley.

Sheley had disassembled the legs of a chair and threw the four chair legs at the officers. Sheley was restrained without further incident.Although deputies were injured during the incident, none required medical treatment.

So does this guy have screwdrivers on the end of his fingers or what? On July 20, 2008, Sheley allegedly took a metal safety bar off the wall and attempted to attack another inmate. The screws from the bar were found on Sheley. Now he disassembles chair legs?
Sometime in late October, Sheley was involved in an unspecified incident brought up during a later court hearing; however, because of the gag order imposed on this case, no details were released about the second incident.

Sometime in mid-January, Sheley and another inmate were involved in an altercation that led to the other inmate needing medical treatment. Specific details have not been released. An emergency court hearing was held on Jan. 16 granting authorities permission to search Sheley's jail cell after that incident.

Sheley is being held in the jail on murder charges in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg. He is also accused of killing five people in Whiteside County and two people in Missouri. He faces the death penalty if convicted.

According to Kaufman's report, Attorneys for Sheley have filed a change of venue motion claiming Sheley cannot get a fair trial in Knox County because of pre-trial publicity. That matter and the constitutionality of the death penalty will be argued at a hearing at 9:30 a.m. May 29.

Sheley is being held on $10 million bond in the Knox County jail.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Boston med student charged in 'Craigslist killing'


A Boston University medical student with no criminal record was arrested Monday and charged with being the 'Craigslist Killer,' the man who attacked women who advertised on the Web site to arrange meetings for erotic services.

Philip Markoff, 22, of Quincy, Mass., was charged by Boston police with last week's slaying of JuLissa Brisman, 26, of NewYork.
Brisman had advertised her massage services on the site. She was killed at the Copley Marriott hotel while resisting a robbery attempt, police believe.

Markoff was also charged with an earlier attack on a prostitute at another hotel. "He's a predator," said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. Markoff remains a suspect in the attack on a woman at a hotel in Warwick, R.I. The suspect was captured on surveillance photos at all three crime scenes, police said. In several photos, he appears unconcerned as he typed on his BlackBerry.

Police said that they believe these may not have been Markoff's first attacks. Police want to hear from "those out there who may have been a victim at the hands of Philip Markoff, especially those who have used Craigslist," Conley said.

Watch Uncut Video Of News Conference

"If you were robbed after placing an ad on Craigslist, we urge you to contact the Boston Police Department," he said.

Boston police said investigators had followed up on more than 150 tips received since surveillance photos of the Boston hotels were released last week.

"They followed high-tech leads and they used old-fashioned shoe leather. They connected computer IP addresses to physical locations," Conley said. "This is a compelling case with a myriad of evidence -- with computer evidence being a part of it," Conley said, adding that additional search warrants would be executed this week.

Markoff's arraignment was set for Tuesday morning at the Boston Municipal Court. It was not immediately clear if he had retained defense counsel.

Police Commissioner Edward Davis said his detectives had Markoff under surveillance "for days" before making the arrest. Markoff was arrested after being pulled over on Interstate 95 in Walpole, Mass., Monday afternoon. Police said he did not resist arrest.

Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster said the company was "horrified and deeply saddened that our community services have been associated in any way whatsoever with a crime of violence."
He promised that Craigslist would evaluate the incident to see if additional measures could be introduced to further protect users.

As katfishponders reported in an earlier blog entitled When Advertising or Answering an Ad Online, BE CAREFUL, You May Get More Than You Bargained For, the victims in this case were involved in high risk behavior; however, as in the other case mentioned in that post about the killing of Katherine Olson, who was answering an ad for a nanny position, crime is just a click away if you're not careful. While it seems crazy that people would choose to select their victims from an online site such as Craigslist, given the fact they can be so easily traced....that seems to be the point....they must not care if they get caught, and by the time they do the deed may already be done. Protect yourself by educating yourself.

Here is a list of safety tips from Craigslist:

Craigslist is a popular website where people can connect to meet others, sell goods, or advertise events. However, dangers can exist if you don't take proper precautions.

When meeting someone for the first time, the website urges people to:

Insist on a public meeting place like a cafe

Tell a friend or family member where you're going

Take your cell phone along if you have one

Consider having a friend accompany you

Trust your instincts

How sharp are your online safety skills? Take the safety quiz on to find out what skills on which you may need to brush up.

You can also find more valuable tips on

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

When Advertising or Answering an Ad Online, BE CAREFUL, You May Get More Than You Bargained For.

On March 31, A jury found Michael Anderson guilty of premeditated murder in the shooting of Katherine Olson, 24, a Minneapolis woman, he lured to his house in Savage, MN through an ad on Craigslist. Susan MacTavish Best, a spokeswoman for Craigslist, the online classified service, said Olson's slaying was the first the company has seen in its 12-year history.

I’ll expound on this conviction in a bit, but first I want to tell you about a murder and a couple of robberies that have occurred in Boston, Mass. and Warwick, RI over the last week. These crimes also have ties to ads placed on Craigslist and remain unsolved as this is written. All of the women had advertised massage services on Craigslist, and both of the women in Boston were guests at luxury hotels. According to Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis the motive for both attacks appeared to be robbery.

Julissa Brisman, 26, was killed at the plush Marriott Copley Place hotel, apparently by a man who answered her ad on craigslist, police said. Hotel guests reported hearing screams from Brisman’s room on the 20th floor of the downtown hotel. She was found lying in a pool of blood, with several bullet wounds and a plastic "restraint" on one wrist, police said. A massage table was set up inside the 20th-floor room. Brisman was rushed to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The victim at the Westin, a 29-year-old from Las Vegas, was bound with a plastic cord and robbed of a debit card and $800 in cash. Police believe Brisman's attacker had also attempted to tie her with a plastic cord. Police said that they believe the victim at the Westin was involved in prostitution but that they are uncertain about Brisman. Friends and relatives of Brisman deny she is involved in prostitution and only offered masseuse services.

Boston police have released surveillance images of a man who they believe may have killed Julissa Brisman at Boston's Marriott Copley hotel and robbed another woman a few days earlier at the Westin Hotel. The suspect is described as a clean-cut white man, medium build, about 6-feet tall with blonde hair. These are images of the suspect grabbed from surveillance video at the hotels.

Meanwhile as Boston police search for this suspect there was an attempted assault and robbery at the Holiday Inn Express in nearby Warwick, RI on Thursday night, April 16.
Warwick's police chief, Col. Stephen McCartney said detectives from both cities reviewed the evidence collected from Thursday night's attempted assault and robbery at the Holiday Inn Express. McCartney said the surveillance video from the hotel has significant evidence on it; however, it is not being released to the public but the suspect matches the description of the man wanted in connection with the incidents in Boston.
During a news conference late Friday morning McCartney confirmed the victim was a 26 year-old woman from Las Vegas. He said the suspect tied the woman up with cord in a room at the Holiday Inn Express, and held a gun to her head. The suspect fled when the victim's husband returned to the room, according to McCartney. Nothing was taken and the woman was not physically hurt.
The woman told police she worked at The Cadillac Lounge, a strip club in Providence, RI and was offering massage services that she advertised on Craigslist. McCartney said investigators are still trying to locate the online ad. He also said she may have been involved in some sort of a sex-for-money transaction at the point in time when she had the confrontation with this alleged assailant.
According to Tom Nolan an associate professor of criminal justice at Boston University, and a former Boston police officer with 27 years of service under his belt, "This guy is going to get caught for sure. He looks like anyone who could be walking down Commonwealth Avenue, looks like any man. But someone knows him." "Technology will ultimately prove his undoing. The very means by which he gained access to his victims and target his victims, selected his victims, communicated with them... this is all retrievable information and information that forensic investigators can identify and use to track down who this individual is."

Now should you be thinking these women behaved in high risk behaviors and that is why this happened to them, consider the case of Katherine Olson, mentioned at the beginning of this entry. Katherine was answering an ad for a nanny position when she was killed by Michael Anderson. A job as a nanny would hardly be considered high risk behavior.
According to the criminal complaint, Anderson posted the phony babysitter-for-hire ad on Craigslist, luring Olson to his home in Savage, MN on Oct. 25,2007. The next day, Olson's body was found in the trunk of her car in a Burnsville park.
Olson had told her roommate that the person who placed the ad "seemed kind of strange," according to prosecutors. Olson went anyway, thinking she would be meeting a woman named Amy, or a couple.

Instead, authorities say, she was lured to the home of her killer, Anderson, who shot her in the back before stuffing her in the trunk of her car.Police found blood spatters in Anderson’s suburban home he shared with his parents, a gun in his bedroom and drag marks on the stairway.Olson's body was found in her car, which was abandoned in a park about five blocks from Anderson's house. Her ankles were bound with red twine, according to the criminal complaint filed in Scott County. Her purse, her smashed cell phone, and bloody towels—one of which bore Anderson's name—were found in a nearby garbage can.

Officials said the evidence indicates Olson and Anderson did not know each other and that there was no evidence of sexual assault. Olson had taken nanny jobs at least twice before, including a job in Turkey, after answering online ads. Olson and "Amy" exchanged e-mails, and in one message, "Amy" asked Olson to baby-sit a child at an address and phone number that matched Anderson's address and cell phone number, authorities said.
The judge sentenced Anderson to life in prison without the chance of parole in the shooting death of Katherine Ann Olson on April 1, 2009.

Katherine Olson’s behavior wouldn’t be considered risky but for the fact she answered an online ad by meeting a stranger alone in a private home. I have included a link to Craigslist safety tips .
For a one stop look at this case I posted the articles I could find at Juror Thirteen. The links to the original articles are included here at J13.

MacTavish Best said Craigslist doesn't monitor each individual listing or user, but is self-monitored by its community. Users can log complaints or flag suspicious postings, and Craigslist staff can block users from the site if terms of use are violated. She said it's important for people to be cautious.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Phil Spector Guilty of Second- Degree murder

Monday, April 13, after a trial that lasted almost 6 months and after nearly 30 hours of deliberations, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury convicted Phil Spector, an eccentric music producer of the 60's for the second degree- murder of actress Lana Clarkson. The jury also found Spector guilty of using a fire arm to commit the crime. For video coverage of the verdict and some clips of the pressor after as well as some slide shows click here. I decided to include this video from the link but recommend checking out the rest at that link.

View more news videos at:

Second-degree murder carries a penalty of 15 years to life in prison. The use-of-a-gun enhancement adds three, four or 10 years in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.
This isn’t the first time that Phil Spector has faced a jury on these charges. The first jury deadlocked 10-2, favoring conviction in 2007.

Phil Spector’s claim to fame has not only been as the inventor of the “Wall Of Sound” recording technique, but also as the producer of teen anthems and working with a number of recording artists from The Crystals to the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner to the Beatles.
Spector’s first claim to fame was “To Know Him Is to Love Him" a song written by Phil Spector and recorded by his first band, the Teddy Bears, that went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1958. The chorus of the song is “To know, know, know him is to love, love, love him. And I do, yes I do.

After Spector’s most recent claim to fame, being charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of a film actress at his mansion six years ago and this conviction on that charge, we might rewrite that chorus to read…To know, know, know him is to convict, convict, convict him. And we did, yes we did.

The jury heard from prosecutors that Spector had a history of threatening women with guns when they tried to leave his presence. As in the first trial, they presented testimony from five women who told of being threatened by a drunken Spector, even held hostage in his home, with a gun pointed at them and threats of death if they tried to leave.

The defense in both trials tried to portray Lana Clarkson as an aging, depressed, has been, who used Spector’s gun to kill her self.

The 40-year-old Lana Clarkson, star of the 1985 cult film “Barbarian Queen,” died of a gunshot fired in her mouth as she sat in the foyer of Spector’s mansion in 2003.

The jury also learned that Spector, 69, who had long lived in seclusion at his suburban Alhambra “castle,” was out on the town in Hollywood when he met Clarkson on Feb. 3, 2003, at the House of Blues.

The tall, blond actress, who had recently turned 40 and was unable to find acting work after breaking both her wrists in a fall at Christmas 2001, had recently taken a job as a hostess in the VIP room of the House of Blues with hopes of making some connections. When the club closed in the wee hours, she accepted a chauffeured ride to Spector’s home for a drink. Three hours later, she was dead.

Spector’s chauffeur, said he heard a gunshot, then saw Spector emerge holding a gun and heard him say: “I think I killed somebody.” IMO that was the most damning testimony of this trial, a confession of sorts or in legal terms an "excited utterance".

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg said he believed the case was swayed by the judge’s erroneous rulings, particularly one that allowed the five women from Spector’s past to testify. He said it would be the basis for appeal and a request for a new trial.

Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson said Monday that “justice ... was unserved up until today. Today is when the Clarkson family gets their justice.”

The jury forewoman, who refused to be identified, cried as she described how the panel made its choice. “It just is a painful decision,” she said. When asked if there was any one thing that stood out for the jury in favor of conviction she said, “ There was no one thing , we looked at all of the evidence, and based our decision on the totality of the evidence.”

Katfishponders can't help but add a chorus here, To know, know, know him is to convict, convict, convict him. And they did, yes they did.

Spector who has been out on a $1 Million cash bond since February 3, 2003 was remanded to custody until his sentencing on May 29.

For in depth coverage of this case visit Sprocket’s Trials and Tribulations blog. Sprocket attended most of the first trial and blogged about the case. When it turned out that there was very little media interest in the second trial, Sprocket attended everyday of the trial and delivered great play by play coverage of the trial. Thank You Sprocket!
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Monday, April 13, 2009

HB 45 DEFEATED! THANK YOU to the heroic legislators that stood on the right side protecting murder victim's family, law enforcement, and public safety

The more than two to one overwhelming defeat of this bill should send a message to those who supported it that there are better ways to reform the prison and criminal justice issues that need fixing, no doubt, in our state, than to re-open the sentences of convicted murderers 25 years later and release them just because they are 50 years old ("elderly") and have been well-behaved in prison (who couldn't be?!).

CONTACT YOUR HOUSE REP TODAY to say Thank You or to tell them not to support the retroactive and early release of murderers sentenced to life without parole or long term sentences - Here is how YOUR Rep Voted.

For more information on the history of this bill, those who sponsored it, and sound observations about better ways to reform prisons and sentencing, including addressing the overwhelmingly larger issue of non-violent offenders visit

Katfishponders is so happy to report the defeat of House Bill 45. Thank you to any readers who took the time to call the Illinois Legislators. While there is definately room for prison reform in Illinois and every state for that matter, it is encumbant upon us as citizens to make sure the reforms don't do more harm than good. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Update on Mark Jensen Appeal

UPDATE 4/08/2009
Memorandum of Dying Declaration-
I came across this memorandum written by Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder to further explain his decision to admit Julie Jensen's letter as her Dying Declaration. Click on "Memorandum of Dying Declaration" to see the document.

Mark Jensen

Julie Jensen

There has been some recent filings with the Wisconsin Supreme Court of Appeal in the Mark Jensen Murder conviction. To date all filings have been pre-appeal motions. To see the filing click here. The due date for these next filings are May 19, 2009. Katfishponders will continue to follow this case as it moves through the appeal process and update this blog when there is any activity.

Mark Jensen is a Kenosha WI. man who sits in jail, facing life in prison with no chance for parole. Jensen, 48 was found guilty on February 21, 2008 for the 1998 poisoning death of his wife Julie Jensen, 40. Prosecutors alleged that Jensen was having an affair and poisoned his wife so he could be free of her. The defense says Julie Jensen was despondent about the affair, killed herself and tried to frame her husband.

For more katfishponders reporting on this case click here.

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