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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  1. Excuse me, but is this man the meanest, sorriest, most dangerous person I've ever heard of, or what? He is so dangerous in every way and evidently his wife is almost as low. I've been keeping up with this case since last summer on this blog. Please keep us informed on the sorry state of this story as it continues through the system! Thanks,Katfish.

  2. Anon 11:14- I couldn't have said it any better. The only good thing, IMO about this latest incident would be if he ended up waiting for trial in a prison instead of a county jail.

    Although it has crossed my mind, as familiar as he is with the legal system, he may be getting tired of isolation and thinking along the same lines. :(

    No worries, with his temper he will end up in isolation wherever he goes.

    Thanks for reading katfishponders and commenting! :)