Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grand Jury Indicts Nicholas Sheley In Jailhouse Incident And Coverage of Last Week's Case Management Hearing

Nicholas Sheley, an accused spree killer, has been held in the Knox County Jail in Galesburg, IL awaiting trial, since last July. He is facing a 17 count indictment in connection with the death of Ronald Randall. He is just one of the eight people Sheley is accused of bludgeoning to death during the 2008 two-state killing spree. Sheley has been held on a $10 million bond. I attended a case management hearing last week in the murder case and will report on that later in this entry.

Katfishponders reported earlier, that Sheley was involved in an incident at the Knox County Jail on April 17, that resulted in five new charges being filed. The three counts of aggravated battery and one count of criminal damage to property allege Sheley broke apart a metal chair and threw the legs at peace and correctional officers causing them injury. Sheley also is accused of punching a correctional officer resulting in the aggravated assault charge. Bond for the new charges was set at $250,000.

Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced Tuesday, May 12, that a grand jury indicted Nicholas Sheley on three counts of aggravated battery, one count of criminal damage to property and one count of aggravated assault. The indictment supersedes the charges previously filed against Sheley on April 23, 2009.

The next hearing scheduled for these charges is May 15 before Associate Judge Dwayne Morrison. The judge is expected to rule whether he will allow Sheley's motion to represent himself on these charges. If found guilty of the assaults Sheley could serve up to 14 years.

Sorry to take so long to report on the case management hearing that took place on May 5 in the murder case. The hearing itself only took fifteen minutes but I have been quite busy.....here is a summary of the hearing:

When I pull up to the courthouse it's already 1:23 and there are no parking spaces open in front. I find a spot on a side street but had to parallel park.....grrr....I can't be late, they won't let you in once Sheley is in the courtroom. Whew, I got parked on the third try. Did I say I hate parallel parking? Anyway, the hearing is supposed to start at 1:30 so I rush up to the courthouse doors.

Luckily there is no one in front of me going through security. The courtroom for this hearing(pictured above) is on the second floor so I head up the stairs as fast as I can. When I reach the courtroom doors a Sheriff's deputy stops me and asks who I am and why I'm here ( lol, where has he been the last 10 months) I give my name and tell him I'm blogging this trial so he waves me in.

As I enter the courtroom it's just about 1:30. There's no sign of Sheley but Sheriff David Clague is seated so Sheley is in the building. Three members of the victim, Ronald Randall's family are here and seated in the front row on the prosecution side, we smile and wave. Shirley Pringle, the Knox County victims rights advocate, is sitting with them. She attends almost every hearing and is a great asset to the court system here in Knox County. There is a woman that I haven't seen before sitting behind them and they are talking.

I sit in the second row on the defense side (closest to the doors) behind the accredited press seats. There are 3 reporters here today. Susan Kaufman from the Register- Mail is always friendly so I take the seat behind her. She and I visit a bit and two women and a man come in and sit behind me. They are affiliated with the defense counsel in someway.

At 1:35 the attorneys for the state come into the courtroom and take their seats. States Attorney John Pepmeyer and two attorneys from the Illinois Attorney General's office, Bill Elward and Steve Plazibat, are here today. At 1:40 Public Defender James Harrell, court appointed co-counsel Jeremy Karlin and John Hanlon enter and take their seats at the defense table.

Next Nicholas Sheley is brought into the courtroom by a group of deputies. As usual, he is fully shackled, dressed in the orange jailhouse garb with white socks and orange sandals. I just saw him yesterday at the hearing for the charges related to the jailhouse incident but I notice two changes right away, he is wearing glasses (must be readers) and his head was bald yesterday but already is showing growth today. He takes his seat without looking around.

Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart enters and the hearing begins. Stewart brings up a defense motion for discovery. Karlin says they will have their defense motion for discovery at the next hearing on May 29 and then will set dates for defense disclosures.

Pepmeyer asks that the record reflect the people's disclosure to defense. The disclosure is a final list of the state's discovery and witnesses. He gets up and hands a copy to the clerk and a copy to the defense. Elward stands and says the hearing on May 29 is the state's deadline for discovery. Judge Stewart comments that neither side is ready to provide a certificate of compliance.

Elward informed the court all statutory aggravating factors have been disclosed up until a jailhouse incident involving Sheley on April 17, adding the evidentiary phase aggravating factors relating to the incident will be submitted by May 29.

Judge Stewart asks the state if all DNA testing is completed. All three at the prosecution table confer and Elward rises and says the disclosure filed today has most of the 417 but the remainder of the testing should be completed by May 29. Stewart asks if there will be any other testing and the state says no.

Karlin stands and says something about the depositions of the state's experts. Stewart asks if the defense has provided access to their experts. Karlin says not until all of the discovery is disclosed.Judge Stewart wants to set a time frame for deposing the experts and says he would like written interrogatories of the experts opinions by May 29 or soon after, not their final decisions but wants to avoid duplications and the interrogatories would help with that.

Plazibat says tomorrow is the date for filing responses to motions but they are not filing the change of venue response by May 29 because of other issues. Karlin responds the state said they had no objection to delaying the arguments for the change of venue motion. Karlin says polling of other counties that could possibly host the trial instead of Knox County hasn't been completed. Guidance for polling questions hasn't been completed.

The defense entered the change of venue motion in March, claiming Sheley could not get a fair trial in Knox County because of extensive pre-trial publicity.

The constitutionality of the death penalty, a possible punishment if Sheley is convicted of killing Ronald Randall, will be argued May 29.

Stewart states that an order will be submitted memorializing what has been done. At the May 29 hearing he will schedule another case management hearing. Right now we are just advancing the case. And court was dismissed.

The trial is tentatively set for Summer 2010. The 17 charges against Sheley, in connection to Randall's death, include 10 counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking, one count of armed robbery, one count of robbery and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Sheley also faces 15 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four people in Rock Falls, IL and is charged in the deaths of a 93-year-old Sterling, IL man and an Arkansas couple killed in Missouri. Those trials will follow this trial. Sphere: Related Content

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