Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Judge Concerned Sheley Murder Trial Could Be Delayed

Katfishponders attended a case management hearing at the Knox County Courthouse on December 4, 2009 in Galesburg, IL . During the hearing, Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart expressed concern about a possible delay in the start of the murder trial for accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley ; however, he did so at the same time as granting a defense motion to extend a deadline for providing the state a list of defense experts by 60 days.

For some reason I had some trouble taking notes during this half hour hearing. It seems each side wants the other to provide information before they can provide the information the other requests. On several occasions Judge Stewart told both parties they were arguing in circles and at one point he said he doesn’t want to hear it anymore. I’ll do my best to describe the hearing, but because my notes are so “all over the place” in some areas this may be more of a summary than my normal “in the courtroom report”.

Because Nicholas Sheley was moved to the Statesville Correctional Center in Joliet, IL to begin serving his 7 year sentence for a conviction of assaulting correctional officers in the Knox County Jail, he was escorted into the courtroom by three officers from the IL Department of Corrections. His housing and transportation are no longer the responsibility of Knox County. The only change I noted in his appearance was a bright yellow, jail issued, shirt and pants vs. the orange that inmates in Knox County wear. One officer kept his hands on Sheley’s waist chains until he sat down and then stood directly behind him.

Jeremy Karlin and John Hanlon were the attorneys in court today for the defense, Public Defender Jim Harrell was absent today. At the table for the state was Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer and Illinois Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward, there may have been someone else from the AG office (not in my notes) but today Elward was the only attorney for the state who addressed the court.

Judge Stewart says there are 2 Motions filed by the defense. I know one is the Motion to extend, I believe the other is a Motion in limine to exclude Sheley’s prior bad acts. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to afford getting copies of the motions that were filed. Based on the discussion in the hearing that assumption seems reasonable. (I will not be offended if anyone corrects me on anything I have reported here.)

Jeremy Karlin began by telling the court the defense filed the motion to extend discovery because they need more time to line up defense experts.

Bill Elward told the court the state doesn’t object to the extension the defense requests. He also tells the court the state intends to introduce at trial, every prior bad act committed by Sheley, including the “events” he is accused of in Whiteside County on June 23, 2008 until his arrest in Granite City, IL on July 1, 2008. Elward then says our response will depend in part on any defense theory they plan to use such as alibi, insanity.

Karlin replies,” to the extent they don’t object, we ask for extra time. In regards to the other issue, we don’t wish to reply on the fly.” ( intended defense)

My notes then say Judge Stewart replies you need to brief and we can schedule a hearing.
(I think this is where the arguing in circles starts?)

Elward is on his feet saying something about the motion on the other acts. He continues with respect to mental health, what date for defense equitable witnesses? To try this case in 2010 we need to be clear ….if want to set a briefing schedule absent some new affirmation of a reasonable defense. We need a date to file 413 (Rule 413. Disclosure to Prosecution). After the state has a list of defense equitable witnesses the state may need additional witnesses. He continues we are 1 and a ½ years into the case and they tell us they need 45-60 days for briefing.

Karlin replies the $64,000 question is, if the prior bad acts are allowed, will the state seek to use them in the guilt/innocence phase, how much relates to this case? If used in the state’s rebuttal case, we need more information. We need to know what the court will allow in at trial so we know what defense to raise. The state needs to brief the issue on the merits of the motion, not defense disclosures. The motion has been on the docket for a while.
Stewart says he doesn’t understand why the defense can’t disclose what they do know. (defense experts?)

Karlin disagrees with the Judge’s premise, per Supreme Court rule 413 we have complied. We need to know the timing of this evidence coming in, whether during the guilt/innocence phase or in the mitigation case (if needed) in order to decide what type of defense we will mount. You have me arguing the merits of response without a written response.

Elward is already on his feet when Judge Stewart says,” I don’t want to argue, you are arguing in circles.” (I think he is addressing both parties) Stewart says he will extend by 60 days.

Elward says the state will have a written response to the defense motion to exclude evidence in a reasonable time.

There was an exchange between Stewart and Elward that I didn’t get, the next thing I have down is Judge Stewart, “if you object to his motion you have until Jan 1“. (I think Elward said the state will file a Motion in Limine to include Sheley’s prior bad acts.)
Karlin says he can have a memorandum and reply 3 weeks after.

Stewart asks the clerk to give him a date on or before January 27. He says there have been no responses filed to set a briefing schedule and he will not argue in circles anymore. The next hearing will be February 19, 2010 at 9:30 a.m. he says the other matters can dealt with at the next case management hearing. Stewart asks if the defense has had the opportunity to go over all the material provided to them.

Karlin replies,” speaking for myself I have once,” Stewart asks Hanlon if he has reviewed the material. Hanlon replies, ”all but the last box.” Stewart then asks what about Harrell? Karlin says he can’t speak for Harrell.

Elward tells the court again, we intend to introduce every offense the defendant has ever committed.

Karlin says our motion doesn’t go to….Elward says, they can’t respond to that until this issue is addressed. Disclosure of experts? Then says defense response by February 26?

Judge Stewart ends the hearing by saying we have had May - October 2010 reserved for the trial….September - October is looking better.

Note: When I got home from this hearing I had a notification from the IDOC that Sheley was moved to his new home at the Pontiac Correctional after court today. For more info on that click here. Sphere: Related Content

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