Monday, July 27, 2009

Stacey Barker Preliminary Hearing- Conclusion- Guest Entry By Tori

August 10 there was another hearing at the Antelope Valley Courthouse for this case. Thanks to ANurse for taking the time to attend and report to us about the hearing. Because the hearing only lasted 10 minutes we will just present the coverage as an update here.

The judge and the attorneys were the same as at the preliminary hearing. There were 3 members of the accredited press at this hearing. When Stacey Barker was brought in she was very pale and appeared thinner than at her last appearance. She was wearing the yellow jailhouse attire and had put her hair up in a loose bun. She didn't make eye contact with anyone in the gallery.

During the hearing Stacey Barker again entered a Not-Guilty plea to the Murder charge and the counts of child abuse and assault on a child causing death.

The defense asked the court for more to time to file a response which the judge granted. (The state appears to have filed a motion either at or after the preliminary). The next hearing date is September 9.

Original entry:

On July 21 the Preliminary hearing was held At the Antelope Valley Courthouse with Judge Carlos A. Chung presiding. Here is a link to the coverage of the first day of this preliminary hearing.This report is from the continuation of that hearing held today, July 27. Deputy District Attorney(DDA) S. Kelly Cromer represented the people and the defendant is represented by Deputy Public Defender(PD), Roberto F. Dager.

Thanks Tori for devoting your time to attend this hearing and sharing your report with us, you have done a great job!

The Prelim was short, started at 9:30, Stacey Barker again came in looking gaunt,messy also emotionless.

The first person on the stand was Detective Nava, as usual a great witness. She was so good, she made me get choked up, that has been easy to do listening to this case.

The PD started out questioning Nava about how long SB was interviewed, she estimated about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. He then said didn't she stick to the same story the whole time, that it was a accident and not her fault.
Nava said the story changed a few times but yes she maintained that it was a accident. I would never hurt my daughter on purpose.

PD: Is it true that you thought she was lying?
Nava: Yes we knew she was lying.

PD: Did you throw out different scenario's of what might have happened?
Nava: Yes, I asked her if she might have drowned, shaken the baby, if she might have hit her too hard or something like that.
PD: And what was her answer?
Nava: Her answer was NO.
PD: Did you keep asking her to tell you what happened, the truth, that you were not buying her story of the events?
Nava: Yes.

PD: What did she say, did she stick to her original story?
Nava: No, she kept changing it.

PD: Didn't you tell her YOU wanted her to say she smothered EMMA?
Nava: NO, she said she didn't know what I wanted her to say and I told her I wanted the truth on how the baby died, because we already knew the truth. One story was she had the baggie in her mouth and when SB turned and looked Emma's head was to the side and she was dead, so she threw the blanket over her face and continued to drive. I wanted to know the truth. Having kids of my own I would have pulled to the side of the road and called for help... did something, so I knew this was a lie.

I said the coroner would know if Emma died from a baggie, if it was stuffed in her throat far enough to cause death, that the baggie would have left scratches in her throat and the coroner would know if she died from the baggie. That is when she changed the story to Emma had the baggie in her mouth and she was playing the game of peek a boo throwing the blanket in her face over the seat and it got caught on the seat and she smothered. After more questioning on that, she told the truth of holding her hand over Emma's mouth and nose with the blanket on her face during the peek a boo game.

PD: Isn't it true you told her the only way you were going to let her go home is to say she suffocated Emma?
Nava: No, we were not going to arrest her at that time anyway.
PD: Is that because you did not have enough evidence to hold her?
Nava: Started to say no but the DDA objected and Nava did not finish the answer.
PD: Did you tell SB that they found blanket fibers in Emma's lungs?
Nava: NO
PD: Isn't that standard practice to force someone into a confession?
Nava: NO

PD: Did you interview the whole family and they told you she was a good mother, that she ran for Emma every time she fell, that she rushed her to the Dr. when she had a reaction to peanuts?
Nava: Yes, everyone in her family said she was a good mother.
At this time the PD asked SB'S mom to step out of the room as he might want to call her as a witness to how SB treated Emma.

PD: Did you review the cell phone calls?
Nava: Yes, they pinged the path one would take to Long Beach, the last ping was...I believe Lawndale. So we know she never made it to Long Beach, she turned around and started back. That is when she put Emma out into the bushes, went to the park and ride where she hit herself in the ribs and banged her head on the steering wheel twice, took off her clothes and made up the RAPE and Abduction story. She kept telling us she didn't want people to blame her and she was a good mother, it was a accident. She was in a panic that is why she left Emma.

That never happened (Barker testifying) because Judge Chang said he did not want her to testify that it was only the Preliminary hearing.

The PD asked for a dismissal of all charges, the Judge denied it.
Judge Chang also denied a bail reduction, or a release, at that time he ruled that Stacey Barker will be held over and tried for charges of Murder, and one count each of Assault on a Child Causing Death and Child Abuse .

All in all, everything stated above is what I remember, some wording or order it was said in might be off a bit, sorry. If anyone else from the boards was there and remember more then I did please add to it for me...thanks.

Not sure what the next date is for but it will be on 8/10/09.

There was another member of one of the boards there and put me on blast, she said my name so loud everyone in the Barker family looked at me, so they know who I am now, not that I care. I was not hiding or anything, it is a open hearing and public record. I just was embarrassed, the Barkers thinking OH that is the nosey bitch that has been doing all the typing...talking. LOL but it's all good.

I arrived at the court at 8am. I asked my daughter what room another person I know was in that is on trial. Anthony, Emma's father said,"Yes, it is in this room." I said, "Oh then Doroam is in here for sure this time?" He said, "Oh sorry, I thought I saw you in here last week and were asking about Stacey Barker (SB)." I told him I was in here, and in the other trial on breaks, but this one was more interesting.
I said I felt bad for him and how tore up he was last week. He told me he was Emma's father and that the guy with him was his brother Patrick. I told him how sorry I was for him and Emma and that he made me cry last week. He said," I am trying to be strong but sometimes it is just toooo much for me that is why I kept walking out".
I told him she was so beautiful and had the prettiest smile, the pictures were so cute. He said he bought her the pink tu tu in the pictures and I think he said he had the picture taken. He started to cry and walked to the water fountain. He also told me what Jason said about her playing games and using Emma against him and forbidding him and his family from seeing her, that in fact he did feel guilty for not trying harder to see Emma, that he loved her with all his heart.

His brother Patrick said that none of his brothers or sisters saw the baby until her 1st Birthday when they came down with Anthony, he said they have not seen her more then twice in her life.

Anthony shared a memory with me and we both almost started to cry and we hugged each other. I felt so bad for him, he does not seem like a bad guy. He looks like a clean cut guy, not tatted down, not dirty, did not look like a druggie, just a down to earth guy .
He had no problem with me being there or mad that I had nothing to do with this but was there being nosey and he was still comfortable enough to talk to me about Emma. He said he stays away from the blogs because he could not take it, he was a mess and to go on the blogs would make it just that much harder for him. He also did not like SB'S lack of emotion that hurt him and made him mad.

The Barkers do not seem to have a problem with Amthony as Mr.Barker asked him and his brother to come sit with the family. So why did they allow SB to hold Emma away from him?

I just want to close with KUDO'S to Detective Nava she is Awesome. this must be hard on her too, from the time she took the stand her voice was cracking like she could break down and cry at any moment. She is amazing, she tore into the PD like a lion when he said she was feeding SB the story and making her tell a lie as to what happened. She must have scared him because he shut the hell up on that bs defense...LOL you go girl!

If I remember more I will let ya know, and sorry to say I cannot attend the 8/10 because of Vacation plans..........Dammit. I know that my know who you are, will do a fine job of being our ears....;-) ttyl.....tori

Sphere: Related Content

Friday, July 24, 2009

Judge Continues Preliminary Hearing In Stacey Barker Murder Case

Katfishponders has been reporting since March 2009 on the story of Emma Leigh Barker. Emma was an 18 month old little girl who allegedly died at the hands of her mother Stacey Barker, 24 , of Lancaster, CA. I'll give a short summary in this entry but for full coverage and links to media coverage click here.
When Emma was first reported missing, Stacey Barker claimed she had been knocked out by "the kidnapper" as she loaded her daughter into her car seat as they left playtime at a local park on March 19. Barker claimed the next thing she knew she came to six hours later in her car now parked several miles away in a Palmdale park and ride lot, partially unclothed, injured and her daughter was missing. Because Barker did have injuries consistent with a struggle she was transported to the hospital for treatment and an Amber Alert was issued for Emma.

The next day Barker admitted making up the abduction story. She said the little girl died accidentally, causing her to panic (afraid she would be blamed) and leave the girl's body near the freeway. It was a month before Stacey Barker was arrested. Barker plead Not Guilty to charges of Murder, and one count each of assault on a child causing death and child abuse at her Arraignment on May 11 at the Antelope Valley Courthouse in Lancaster, CA . It was reported by the Sheriff's office spokesman that "Detectives believe that based on interviews and the condition of the victim that she likely suffocated."

Since Emma went missing and Stacey Barker was charged with killing her there has been next to no coverage of the case by the accredited press, locally or nationally. If this continues the defense shouldn't need to file a Motion for a change of venue, there would be no basis to support it.

Because of the lack of coverage, the information from here on will be based on reports by a woman named Toria who has been attending the hearings in this case, Toria has graciously allowed me to share her reports with you. Most of the "in the courtroom" report is in Toria's own words, I did change a few things because the information is culled from a number of posts versus one report so I have tried to piece them together in a way that makes sense. Thank you Toria. There are MANY who are interested in this case.

On July 21 the Preliminary hearing was held At the Antelope Valley Courthouse with Judge Carlos A. Chung presiding.

Deputy District Attorney S. Kelly Cromer represented the people and the defendant is represented by Deputy Public Defender, Roberto F. Dager.

The Defendant was non emotional except when the Coroner or Detective said something she didn't like, then she sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes and bitched to the PD...anything but tears!
Her hair was a rats nest, someone must have stolen her down almost covering her face. When they were taking her handcuffs off the deputy was telling her not to try to touch any family members.

The Barker family and Stacey Barker's boyfriend Brendan (BB) were there. Emma's father Anthony and his mom were there also.

There were 2 motions filed by the defense:

1. The defense motion to exclude media coverage is denied.

2. The defense motion to allow defendant change into civilian clothes is denied.

The coroner, Dr. James Ribe was the first witness on the stand.

Dr. Ribe did not say a time of death at the hearing, what he did say was the state of the body when he got to it, full rigor mortis. According to the Coroner's report, Emma was allergic to peanuts, so her Dr. gave her dimeatapp(?) wellllll, she had 2x the dose for her age! The Coroner said Emma should have .15mpl allergy med in her system if the baby had a reaction, but Emma had .30mpl.

Dr. Ribe also commented on the froth that was found, if she had choked on a baggie it would have had to have been stuffed way down in her throat and the froth from her lungs could not have passed the baggie so he KNOWS IT WAS SUFFOCATION.

Emma also had white rock type material in her belly (SB reported it was a piece of granola bar) Blood in both nostrils, among other things they found hairs on her vagina (coroner did not elaborate on what kind of hairs), blanket material on her face and grass and dirt on her back!

(I had to laugh at the Attorney for SB , he kept saying ,"SUFFERCATED" AND "SUFFERCATION". I was SUFFERIN' just listening to him. SSSUFFEREN SSSSUCCOTASH, LMAO. He should really learn how to say "suffocate" the right way.)

Second on the stand was the Deputy that arrived at the scene first, his name is John Alvares. When the sheriff arrives at the Park and Ride, all SB does is complain about HER HEAD..SHE MENTIONS EMMA ONLY1 OR 2 TIMES!
B I T C H......
Third was Elliot Uribe, I think he was the first Detective that SB talked to, I am not quite sure.

Next were Detective William Marsh and Detective Sandra Nava.
The information that Detectives William Marsh and Sandra Nava testified to was from the taped interview with Stacey Barker the morning she got out of the Emergency Room.

The Deputy District Attorney (DDA) wanted to play the video of the interview in court so the judge could see and hear for himself her cold demeanor when SB was telling the story, no tears or emotion...the judge said it is already 3:00 and that tape is 2 hours long so just do a summary for now.

According to Detective Sandra Nava"s testimony:

Stacey Barker (SB) and her boyfriend, Brendan (BB) were out until about 2 or 3 am on St.Patty's day at Coaches or some other bar and grill, the Detective could not remember the name SB told her. SB told Nava that her mom was watching Emma that night.

The next morning SB got up at her regular time and got dressed like she was going to work, went to BB house where they slept most of the day and other things, watched tv and then went to Pollo Loco for lunch, then she redressed in her work clothes and goes home like she worked all day!

Stacey feeds Emma dinner.....some dinner, a lunchable! Stacey and her mom get into a fight because mom feels SB is spending more time with BB and not Emma, so mom tells her that she is not going to watch Emma anymore for her to go party, only for work! SB gets pissed off and tells her brother that she is taking Emma to the park, in reality she is heading to Long Beach to see if Anthony (Emma's father) will give her more support money for Emma. I guess the answer was no!!!

On the way back to Antelope Valley(AV), the freeway is packed, stop and go traffic, Emma is getting restless at the length of the drive so SB gives her a purse to play with that has an empty zip lock baggie in it. (I always carry a empty baggie don't any of you?)Emma puts the baggie in her mouth, SB notices it but instead of removing it , she says she starts to play peek a boo with beautiful Emma putting a blanket over her face. While the baggie is still in her mouth, SB put her hand over Emma's mouth and nose and held it there for 2 to 3 minutes. Emma was trying to get Bitches hand off her face pulling at her arm with one hand at first, then struggling pulling at her arm with both hands...then EMMA'S LITTLE HANDS JUST FELL (hearing this the whole family was crying even BB..Anthony and his mother were sobbing..and I cried too).

Barker told detectives she removed the blanket and Emma's head is slumped to the side and the baggie is still in her mouth, she drives another 45 minutes with Emma dead with the baggie in her mouth, until she finds the off ramp at Roxford where she rids herself of Emma. SB said she took the baggie out of Emma's mouth and drives for about 15 minutes then throws the baggie out the window, goes to the park and ride and fakes the rest.

Detective Nava testified that SB said she did it because she didn't want Emma to turn out like her, knocked up early and living at home with the parents! Her mom and dad lost it when she said that! witch!

Truth is BB did not want a ready made family, he claims to be single and loving his life with no kids to hold him down, that is what he told the Detectives!

Before they finished for the day the DDA started talking to Detective Nava about cell phone records but did not get past "yes we have them". Detective Nava's testimony will continue on Monday.

On Monday, they will show pictures of Emma's dead body and autopsy pics, I caught a peek at them when the DDA was looking at them....Just horrible, made me sick to see them.
I will be back on Monday for Emma.

Court ended at 4:30 and the Preliminary hearing will be continued on Monday, July 27 at 9:30 am.
Here is a link to the conclusion of this preliminary hearing.

Katfish here again, Barker is being housed in the Century Regional Detention Facility in the city of Lynwood on$1 million bail.

The maximum penalty Barker faces is 25 years to life in prison. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will Mark Jensen Get A New Trial? The Case of The Letter From The Grave

Today InSession on TruTV showed the verdict and sentencing of Mark Jensen for the murder of Julie Jensen. We knew that the verdict was guilty and he was sentenced to Life without Parole. I still found it very compelling to watch this all unfold again. Like I say in my introduction to my blog, criminal trials show the very best and the very worst of mankind, IMO this case exemplifies that.

A couple of the key players in this trial called into the coverage on InSession today which I found very interesting. Special prosecutor Robert Jambois called into "Courtside" with Jack Ford and the jury foreperson called into "The Best Defense" with Jamie Floyd. Unfortunately, I missed "Open Court" with Ashley Banfield so I can't tell you any updates from that show.

Robert Jambois pointed out that his co-counsel Angelina Gabrielle had a very strong role in developing the state's case, much more so than accredited in the media. So kudos to Ms. Gabrielle as well! One thing that I found most interesting about Mr. Jambois comments was that in this day and age a conviction by a jury is only a step in the process of a case, particularly this case. Jambois fully expects this case to go through the State of appeals court, The Wisconsin Supreme Court and eventually the US Supreme Court.

The jury foreman who called into "The Best Defense" didn't have a lot to say, but he did reconfirm that this jury took their jobs very seriously and they painstakingly came to a verdict they all could live with. I must say I have never heard of a jury as thorough and dedicated as this one...they came to court through horrific Winter weather for almost 8 weeks. When it came time for deliberation, they deliberated for 3 days, but in those 3 days they deliberated some 36 hours (until almost midnight the first day) and asked for over 80 items of evidence to review.

In closing, When I followed my link here to the WSCCA to check on the appeal in this case, the link didn't work. Did we burn it out ? hehe.. I have corrected the link, so if you previously had problems it should work now. What I found was that the attorney for Jensen, Christopher Rose, filed a Motion Response July 23 to the state's Motion Response to his Petition To Bypass. The state's Briefing is still pending and due July 30. This is going to be a long process. Katfishponders will continue to follow the appeal and update what is found. I have heard several defense attorney's say they think the conviction will be overturned on case law....we'll have to wait and see. In the mean time all the best to Julie Jensen's loved ones, and a sincere wish that you do not have to go through another trial.


I'm bumping this article up because TruTV is re-airing their coverage of this trial. If you have a chance to catch any of it, I recommend it. Of course they will condense the coverage this time around but I would think it will still last a week or two as the original trial lasted for over a month.This case included some fine examples of advocacy by both the state and the defense. Craig Albee is actually one of the finest defense lawyers I have seen in all of the trials that I have watched. If I were accused of a crime (not likely) this is the guy I would want.

To see the complete coverage of this case on Katfishponders
click here.

I also wanted to give an update on the progress of the appeal in this case. As of this writing the case is in briefing, the Appellant (Defendant) have filed their briefs and the Respondent (Plaintiff) are expected to file their briefs (legal arguments) by July 30. Attorney for Jensen, Christopher Rose, filed a Petition to Bypass on July 7, and the attorney for the state, Marguerite Moeller, filed a Motion Response the same day. The case is On Hold while the Motion and Petition are pending.

For those who (like me) aren't legal eagles, a Petition to Bypass is a document filed with the Supreme Court during the pendency of an appeal in the Court of Appeals asking the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction of the appeal prior to the issuance of a decision by the Court of Appeals.

Katfishponders will continue to monitor the appeal and keep you posted as it progresses.

UPDATE 1/12/2009
I have done some extra digging and found this information at the Wisconsin Court of Appeals website:
Summary of Appeal- This shows the status of the case as closed.

Case History- This shows an Attorney Change on 10/16/2008.
Also shows that on 12/22/2008 the time for filing transcripts
in this case is extended to 1/19/2009.
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.

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.

This trial was notable for many reasons, the length of time it took to bring this case to trial, the excellent representation by both the prosecution and the defense, the dramatic evidence of his-and-hers flings, X-rated e-mail exchanges and Internet searches for poisons. Prosecutors also presented testimony from a co-worker of Mark Jensen who said Jensen had told him he was looking on the Internet for poisons to kill his wife and from a jailhouse snitch who said Jensen had made incriminating remarks behind bars. The drama lasted up to the final moment of testimony, when a prosecution forensics expert dipped her fingers into a Styrofoam cup of antifreeze, tasted it and described the flavor as "sweet."

A few weeks before her death, Julie Jensen had given a neighbor a letter pointing an accusing finger at her husband should anything happen to her. She also made foreboding comments to police and to her son's teacher, saying she suspected that her husband was trying to kill her. The letter, read aloud in court, said in part: "I pray I'm wrong + nothing happens ... but I am suspicious of Mark's suspicious behaviors + fear for my early demise," the letter says. " Click here to read the letter.

Legal wrangling over the letter and Julie Jensen's statements delayed the trial for years.
Using such evidence in court has for years been blocked by strict hearsay rules giving criminal defendants the right to confront their accusers. In March 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 1980 case, Crawford vs. Washington, that laid out complex rules for when statements can be used without the opportunity for cross-examination. The court said the case complicated a part of the Constitution (sixth amendment) that guarantees a criminal defendant the right to confront his accusers.

Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder then ruled the letter and voice mails to police were inadmissible, but testimony of the neighbor and teacher could be allowed. Prosecutors appealed and the case went to the state Supreme Court, which said such previously inadmissible testimony could be used if a judge determined the defendants' actions prevented the witnesses from testifying. The Wisconsin Supreme Court based its decision on the "doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing." Essentially, it said that Mark Jensen forfeited his Constitutional right to face his accuser, because his alleged actions (murdering his wife) made it impossible for her to appear in court. Judge Schroeder decided it was reasonable to believe that Mark Jensen's actions prevented his wife from testifying.

For years, authorities said Julie Jensen had died of multiple doses of ethylene glycol, commonly used as antifreeze. But testimony during the trial also indicated that she might have been smothered with her pillow. Inmate Aaron Dilliard, an admitted con man, testified that Mark Jensen indicated to him that he suffocated his wife when the poison did not appear to be working fast enough. Dillard testified that Jensen said he sat on Julie's back and pushed her face into the pillow. Crime scene photos show Julie's nose and mouth pushed to the left side. Her face was found deep in the pillow, according to testimony.

Another inmate, bank robber David Thompson, testified that Jensen told him last year that he killed his wife and asked him to help kidnap and "sit on" a witness until after the trial. The conversation was overheard by a third inmate, Bernard Bush. Bush said he heard a total figure of $100,000 being discussed, with $50,000 up front and $50,000 at the completion of the abduction. The would-be target was Ed Klug, Jensen's former co-worker.

Ed Klug was an investment broker who worked under Mark Jensen. He said that a month after they met, they drank together at a work conference and complained about their wives. Mark Jensen said he wanted to poison his wife and he went to Web sites that featured hard-to-trace poisons. Klug told his wife and several co-workers. One co-worker told another co-worker who went to authorities, who contacted him this year. Klug said he didn't come forward nine years sooner because he was afraid for his job since Mark Jensen was his boss.

Prosecutor Robert Jambois called experts who say they found evidence of suffocation. The defense experts disagreed. Defense attorney Craig Albee called his own poison expert to say Julie Jensen could have taken repeated doses of poison herself, contradicting the prosecution's poison expert and called mental health experts as well. Mark Jensen did not take the stand.

A jury of seven women and five men deliberated for 32 hours over a three day period before reaching a guilty verdict. After the verdict, jurors told reporters that the letter gave them "a clear road map" to conviction, as one female juror phrased it. Another female juror said he believed Mark Jensen was trying to push his wife over the edge. "He tortured Julie hoping she could be classically diagnosed as a nutcase," she said.

Through out all of this trial, Julie Jensen's four brothers attended court everyday in support of their sister. They also constructed a web site called . The website is a wonderful tribute to their sister and the woman that she was. They have also made a timeline of this case that is invaluable to those who might be interested in this case and provided a lot of information about domestic abuse and poisoning. Just click on the link above to go there.

In all fairness, Mark Jensen's family also supported him. His parents, his current wife (the woman he was having the affair with ten years ago) and Mark and Julie's two sons. They too have developed a web site in support of Mark, which I will not link to because I feel he is guilty.
Here is a message they posted on the site:

We are appealing for a new trial. Mark is broke and cannot pay for a new trial. His attorney is asking for $40,000 for past trial expenses. Mark sold his paid-for home of $240,000, liquidated his IRA, his 401k, his stock portfolio, and savings to pay for this trial. His attorney got it all. The attorney will not defend an appeal unless more funds are forthcoming.

In June of 2008 there was another Supreme Court ruling, Giles vs. California, that may enable Mark Jensen to have his conviction thrown out.The Supreme Court ruled that defendants must be able to cross-examine the person who is accusing them of a crime even in cases where the defendant killed that person. That means the letter Julie wrote to police, in which she said Mark was trying to kill her, and her statements to friends about the same thing, could not be used as evidence in court.

This ruling does not guarantee Mark Jensen’s freedom, or even a new trial. The judge in his case ruled that Julie’s letter and statements were a dying declaration, evidence of her state of mind at the time of her death. The state appeals court is reviewing that. If they rule the statements were a dying declaration, the Supreme Court decision will not apply and Mark will remain in prison. Otherwise, he might become a free man.


TMJ4 Sphere: Related Content

Monday, July 6, 2009

Trial Date set for Nicholas Sheley Assault Case

Today, July 6, I attended a pre - trial conference for Nicholas T. Sheley at the Knox County courthouse in Galesburg , IL. Sheley is facing felony charges of Aggravated Battery and Criminal Damage to Property and a Misdemeanor charge of Aggravated Assault. The charges stem from an April 17 incident at the Knox County jail in which Sheley is accused of taking the metal legs off a chair and throwing them at correctional officers, injuring two. He is also accused of punching one officer in the face. Bond was set at $500,000. If convicted of the battery charges he could face up to 14 years in prison.

Sheley has been held on a 10 million dollar bond in Knox County since July 1, 2008 where he is awaiting trial on murder charges. Sheley is accused of bludgeoning 8 people to death in a 6 day, 2 state killing spree that occurred in late June 2008. In Knox County he is charged with 17 counts, 10 of which are first-degree murder, for the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg and faces the death penalty if convicted. The capital trial is tentatively set to be heard in Summer 2010.

Here is my “in the courtroom” report for today‘s hearing:

I get here at 8:30 for the 9:00 hearing so I have plenty of time and it’s a good thing because when I come in the door of the courthouse people are lined up to the door waiting to pass through security, that’s unusual. Hmmmm….did some people have too much fun this 4th of July weekend?

I’m not sure which courtroom today’s hearing will be held in. Judge Stephen Mathers was appointed to hear this case after Sheley‘s public defender, James Harrell, filed a motion for a substitution of judge at a earlier hearing. I have never been in Judge Mather’s court, but since felony’s are dealt with on the second floor I head up the stairs. Once again there are a lot of people around. It is unusual for a hearing to be held for Sheley when the courthouse is so busy because of security concerns. I hope the date hasn’t been changed. I have been without internet service for 5 days which is the form of communication I use with those who usually update me.

I peek in the large courtroom and see Ronald Randall’s family seated in the front row behind the prosecution. This is where the hearing will be. I make my way into the courtroom and take a seat in the second row behind the family. There are a dozen or so people seated in the gallery and as many lawyers standing around the well and at the entrance so I assume there will be some other cases heard as well. Every now and then one of the attorneys will say a name and then look around the courtroom for their client. Within minutes the courtroom is full and there are still people standing in the hallway.

Knox County Victims Rights Advocate Shirley Pringle comes in. She usually sits with the Randall family but she sets the pile of paperwork she has in her arms on the state’s table and then comes over to the family. She said there are 87 pre-trial hearings set for today. They won’t do Sheley until these 87 are done but she assures the family it shouldn’t take much over an hour. Ms. Pringle says it not unusual for there to be a couple hundred of these pretrial cases , but today was slow. Thank Goodness! These "group" pretrial hearings are held just once a month. She also adds that she sits with the state for these hearings and then takes her place with another woman at the state‘s table. An Assistant States Attorney (ASA) represents the state today but he stays on his feet. I don’t know this ASA’s name but he is a good looking young man (30ish) and has been in the court as an observer in most of Sheley’s hearings.

Judge Stephen Mathers calls court to order right on time. He remains standing and addresses the court. He says that everyone appearing today has pled not guilty and requested a jury trial during their arraignments. Mathers continues, saying he expects that at least half of the cases being heard today will now waive their right to a jury trial which can mean one of two things, either they will request a bench trial (with a lone judge disposing their case instead of a jury) or they will be entering into some sort of a plea deal with the state. He admonishes the court that those who waive their right to the jury trial must sign off that they understand once they waive that right they cannot change their mind. He says rather that repeat this admonishment to every defendant he will give it again to the first few and then any of the incarcerated who aren’t in court yet.

Judge Mathers then takes his seat at the bench. He is a very pleasant man looking to be in his late 50 early 60s. My first impression is he is a no nonsense type of guy. He called the cases for each lawyer so the attorney stood at the bench and each defendant approached as their names were called. The cases move very fast and at about 9:50 all the cases were done.

Because Judge Mathers hasn’t presided over Sheley’s cases before he wants to know who Ronald Randall’s family and I am. There is also someone from the media (?) sitting next to the family. The ADA speaks up and says, “They’re all here for the next case”. Mathers says something like…. well that ought to take 10 seconds. He may as well get used to seeing us. Randall’s family is present at every hearing and they are usually the first to come and the last to leave. They are here to represent their loved one and they do not waiver! Me…. I have missed a few hearings but I do try to attend all hearings that I know about if at all possible. With these additional charges the hearings have picked up in numbers.

Sheley is brought in right at 10 a.m. Of course he is fully shackled and wearing the bright orange jailhouse uniform and flip flop sandals. His hair is grown out a bit and he is sporting some facial hair. He is accompanied by his normal entourage of about 6 sheriff deputies. Knox County Sheriff David Clague made the trip over today too and takes a seat in the gallery.

Judge Mathers waves a piece of paper in his hand and says he has received a motion to continue from the defense. At the arraignment a tentative date of July 27 was set for the criminal trial on these charges. James Harrell tells the court that he had made plans to be gone on those dates long before the April 17 incident at the jail. The ADA told the court that the state’s position was that they were ready to proceed. Judge Mathers granted the defense motion to continue and set another pre-trial hearing for September 8 at 9 a.m. and September 21 for the jury trial. With that court was recessed. A little longer than 10 seconds but not much. LOL

Tomorrow there is a pre-trial hearing in the murder case at 1 p.m. Arguments on the defense motion for change of venue are expected tomorrow. Sphere: Related Content