Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nicholas Sheley Defense Asks For Special Prosecutor

WGIL Radio in Galesburg, IL reports that the defense for Nicholas Sheley filed a motion on Monday, July 12 to have a special prosecutor appointed in his capital murder trial. I haven't seen the motion yet, so I'll supply the article from Their article will appear in black italics in this post and my analysis and opinions of the case will appear in regular type.

The local attorneys for accused spree killer Nicholas Sheley say a recent order in their favor makes it necessary for a special prosecutor to be appointed in the case.

Documents were filed Monday in Knox County Circuit Court by defense attorney Jeremy Karlin asking for the special prosecutor.

Karlin cites an order signed last month by Judge James Stewart that allows the defense to seek certain testing or services on an "ex parte" basis -- meaning, without prosecutors being present -- and also allows the Department of Corrections to transport Sheley for that testing without telling prosecutors.

On April 1, 2010, Judge James Stewart issued an order directing the Illinois Department of Corrections to transport defendant Nicholas T. Sheley for certain testing. The DOC filed an emergency motion  for leave to file a petition for an original writ of mandamus.The motion was denied and the order was entered by the court.

The IL Department of Corrections (IL DOC) then filed an emergency motion with the IL Supreme Court for a supervisory order. The motion was allowed. The Supreme Court wrote in it's order, " In the exercise of this Court's supervisory authority, the Circuit Court of Knox County is directed to vacate its order of April 1, 2010, directing the Illinois Department of Corrections to transport defendant Nicholas T. Sheley for certain testing. The circuit court is directed to conduct a hearing at which the Illinois Department of Corrections may be heard on the subjects of safety and expense, and may suggest alternative orders."

That hearing was held on June 18 and the court, again, ordered the DOC to transport the defendant for the required testing. Stewart told the defense whenever they need an ex parte hearing they should notify the prosecution of the hearing so they are aware, but the order allows Sheley to be tested and transported without the knowledge of the prosecution.

I wrote an entry on the June 18 hearing when
Judge James Stewart upheld this order titled 
"The Nicholas Sheley Case, 
It's A Long And Winding Road To Justice".

But Karlin claims while the order means his side doesn't have to disclose parts of their case prematurely, the filing says "A party to these orders has failed to comply with the terms of these orders."

Karlin doesn't specify in the filing who's at fault -- just that a special prosecutor is needed to help enforce ex parte matters in the future.

Because of the position the IL DOC has taken regarding this transport, Katfish...ponders feels comfortable speculating that the DOC in some way notified the state of a transport. They may have notified another agency within the executive branch of a transport feeling they would still be in compliance but the state was notified ??? I just don't see the State's Attorney or Illinois Attorney General's office failing to comply with the judge's order, besides, how would they know unless it came from the DOC?

But he's now also asking the judge to dismiss the entire 17 count indictment against Sheley, accusing him of bludgeoning to death 65-year old Ronald Randall among other things over two-years ago now -- part of a suspected two-state killing spree, and to strike a notice of intent to seek the death penalty.

We can consider these latest motions as 
just another curve in that road to justice.

This isn't the first time Sheley's defense has made a motion to dismiss the 17 count indictment or to have the option to seek the death penalty removed. Those motions were previously denied in 2009. It's not clear without having seen this latest motion to dismiss and strike if they are being presented as sanctions for failure to comply with the court's order or just a continuing attempt to provide Nicholas Sheley with a vigorous defense. I tend to think it's the latter.

The Illinois Attorney General's office has aided the Knox County State's Attorney in trying the case, but Karlin says appointing a special prosecutor means Sheley's right to a fair trial will be maintained.
Again, this is just my opinion based on what little I know and have speculated about these recent developments.....If the DOC feels they must notify someone about these transports for safety reasons, maybe it is appropriate to appoint a special prosecutor or special master to oversee these exparte matters.

Sheley is currently serving a prison sentence for starting a fight with employees of the Knox County Jail last year. It's not known when this new motion will be heard. 

Katfish...ponders has learned there are hearings scheduled for July 29 and July 30, both at 1:45 p.m. to hear these motions.

In the meantime, several media outlets including WGIL have until Monday to respond to yet another subpoena in the case asking for documentation of their coverage of the case.

The defense filed a motion for a change of venue earlier in the case and have conducted phone polls in Knox County to support their motion. That motion was argued by both sides in November 2009 and Judge Stewart denied the motion calling it premature; however, he did not preclude the defense from renewing the motion pre-trial. The defense must be keeping up-to-date on the coverage in preparation to renew the motion. 

When denying the defense motion for change of venue in November 2009, Judge Stewart said, "Knox County has an interest in this case being tried in the county in which the alleged crime is said to have been committed." 

Any readers who are fellow trial watchers know that in some states the remedy the courts have used to avoid the expense and inconvenience of moving an entire trial, yet protect  right to a fair trial of the accused, is to bring a jury in from another county within the district. Perhaps in this day and age of 24/7 media coverage more states should consider this option. Off the top of my head I know of recent cases in Tennessee and Florida that have successfully done this......I haven't researched it but I know there are other states that do the same.

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  1. "But he's now also asking the judge to dismiss the entire 17 count indictment against Sheley..."

    He's been reading up on the Scheme Team in FL hasn't he?! Did he notice, it didn't work for them either? Makes me wonder sometimes if these lawyers realize just how ridiculous their motions sound to "just plain folk" who knows nothing about the law, but sees right thru them and their motions and requests.

    It's a waste, a huge waste...

  2. Katfish,

    Do you have any pull with insession on tv? I would like to watch this one, seems like it's gonna be a circus:) Let me know if you find anything out?


  3. sorry4utaken,
    Thanks for commenting. You are correct this one may be a circus. Sheley really knows how to work the system and is very impulsive. This story did receive national attention as it broke but hasn't been covered other than locally so far. I agree, this would be a perfect case for InSession to cover. There should be 3 trials in IL and one in MO. Unfortunately, IL doesn't allow cameras in the courtroom. I'm not sure about MO....but at the rate this case is moving, it could be years before he gets down there. I do have extensive notes from the hearing about the special prosecutor. I will write that up ASAP. My husband has been in the hospital so I am way behind on everything. Stop by anytime. :)

  4. First off I would like to thank you for following this story. Though I don't live there anymore, I am origanally from Sterling. I moved 12 years ago. I did know Nick, but mostly his brother Josh. Have you seen they are almost set to repeal the death penalty in Illinois? Knowing how violent Nick was, it was only a matter of time. I hope he gets what he deserves!

  5. Anon 2/4 11:01 PM, Welcome to my "pond" and thanks for commenting. I have gotten way behind on reporting this case; however, I'm currently working on 2 posts about the Sheley case. One will be a catch up and review of the case during the last half of 2010.(I just picked up $20 worth of copies of Motions/Responses and Court Orders from Sheley's file this week.) The other will be an "in the courtroom report" of a hearing I attended today. I'm not sure which post will get done first, but most likely today's hearing. Check back ;)

    From what I have been told the Governor has to make a decision on the bill by the end of July, if he hasn't taken any action by then the bill automatically goes into effect and the DP will be abolished. General perception of those in the legal profession that I have spoken with think the Governor will put the bill through. So it's likely he won't face the DP until he gets to MO for the last 2 murders he is accused of.....he will likely/hopefully never be a free man again.