Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nicholas Sheley Murder Case - IL Governor Abolishes The Death Penalty

Nicholas T. Sheley at Pontiac Correctional Center 2011
 It has been quite some time since I have written about the capital murder case of Nicholas Sheley who is accused of killing Ronald Randall, 65, in Galesburg, IL on  June 28, 2008. I sure didn't plan to get so far behind, but Mr. Katfish has been quite ill the past several months and of course that is my main priority. I recently found out I can tap into the hospital's WiFi connection on my netbook, so here we go......

Although there have been a number of  hearings since my last report, not much happened during these hearings to actually progress this case towards trial, rather things have been pushed back...several times.  The "wheels of justice turn slowly" is not just a cliche, it's a reality. When I last wrote about this case the court was planning for the trial to start in early 2011. Now we are looking at the Summer or possibly Fall of 2011 before this trial gets under way.

When I started writing this post back on February 5 (after attending a hearing on the 4th), I had planned to try and work backwards to catch up on this case but it's just not going to happen. I'll just pick up from the most recent development that effects this case, and it's a big development ! On March 9, 2011, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, more than a decade after the state imposed a moratorium on executions out of concern that innocent people could be put to death by a justice system that had wrongly condemned 13 men. Quinn also commuted the sentences of all 15 inmates remaining on Illinois' death row. They will now serve life in prison with no hope of parole. I'll address the effect of this legislation on Nicholas Sheley's case in this entry.

For readers not familiar with this case, Nicholas Sheley is accused of killing eight people ( including Randall ) in a week long killing spree during the last week of June 2008.  Five of the other seven people were killed in Whiteside County, IL, a 20 year old woman, her 2 year old son and three men ages 25, 29 and 93. (Whiteside County is where Sheley is from.) An  Arkansas couple, both age 54,visiting the St. Louis, MO area were Sheley's last 2 (alleged) victims and were killed in Festus, MO. You can learn more about the week of Sheley's alleged killing spree and the weeks leading up to to it by clicking here to see an early post titled " Sheley's Trail of Terror".

With the death penalty abolished in IL, the maximum penalty Nicholas Sheley (if convicted for the death of Ronald Randall ) can face is a life sentence without the possibility of parole (LWOP).  From what I understand, the trial should start sooner, be shorter and less expensive (if convicted, no penalty phase to decide the death penalty).

Nicholas Sheley's defense most likely will consist of one lawyer instead of the three or four he has now. Jeremy Karlin is lead attorney on Sheley's defense team and would remain so. I'm not sure if the Office of the IL Attorney General would still assist the prosecution of this case, but wouldn't be surprised if they did because of the gravity of the alleged crimes. 

Because this is a capital case, Knox County has not been responsible for the costs of this case, funding has come from the Capital Litigation Trust Fund, that burden will now shift to the county and the unspent money in the Capital Litigation Fund will be reallocated to pay for services for victim’s families and law enforcement training.

In the mean time this case is status quo and will proceed as a death penalty case until the new legislation takes effect on July 1, 2011,  unless the state files a motion to withdraw the death penalty before then.
As of the February 4 hearing the next scheduled hearing in this case is a case management hearing on March 29, 2011. We should learn more then.

A final note, Missouri has not abolished the death penalty, so Nicholas Sheley may still face death if he is convicted for the deaths of Tom and Jill Estes.....whenever his case makes it's way there.

Chicago Tribune

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  1. Hi, Katfish!

    I am sorry to hear that Mr. Katfish is so ill. My prayers and thoughts are with you both.

    Although I have not followed this case, I remember when this happened.

    Thank you for this interesting article and update, Katfish! I always enjoy reading your informative articles.

    I am sorry to hear that the Gov. of IL has abolished the Death Penalty.



  2. Hi Ann!
    Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. We are hanging in there.

    I am conflicted on the DP issue. In theory I believe in the DP....there are some whose acts are so atrocious they will never be safe for society and merit the ultimate punishment. IL has really been one of the most proactive states as far as guidelines being implemented to avoid wrongful convictions so I would have been ok with the DP remaining an option. having said that I don't think it's right that some states have the DP and some don't....it seems to be more of a political issue than it should be.JMO

  3. When will you quit obsessing over Sheley????

  4. Anon 3/29 7:52 PM

    Hahahahahaha! The last post I wrote about Shely before this was July 2010.....if you want to call that obsessing.....BWahhhh!Noone is forcing you to read here.....fyi, I do have a good one coming up soon.

    OOps forgot to answer your question....if you replace the word obsessing with writing
    .....the answer is....when he is convicted of his crimes and put away for good....then he will be forgotten.....no problem.

    FYI, your comments are welcome here even if you don't agree with me as long as you're not using vulgar language.

  5. My prayers are with you and your husband. Thank you for your updates on this crime spree. The wheels of justice do indeed turn slow, especially when your loved ones are the last two on the list. Incidently, I know its a minor issue, but Tom Estes was 55. This is not your fault. This has been wrongly reported from the start, even the obiturary.

  6. Anonymous 3/30 10 AM,

    Thank you for your prayers....we appreciate them very much.Mr. katfish has had a couple "good" days :)

    Thank you for the correction on Tom Estes' age as well....it IS important to me to have correct information.

    I will continue to report on this case as my time allows despite being accused of obsessing about the case. (see comment left 3/29 on this post. This person also made a similar comment on another post, my response there is a little longer)Here is the link to that post if you are interested:


  7. I would Like to thank you for this update i know its been a little while sences i last looked in to this case. kilynna was my cuzin. I have had no clue what has happin or had happin in the case till I was thinking of her this morning. Thank you very much for this update.

  8. John, I too have been thinking of Ky and all of the other victims of these senseless murders....hard to believe it's coming on 3 years. To see the most recent updates here at katfishponders on the Sheley case on the right side of this page(or any) is a section called Labels....under labels click on Nicholas Sheley and all entries regarding this case will come up beginning with the most recent.
    In case you are not aware, the court has agreed to allow Sheley to represent himself in the case of Ronald Randall's death and that trial should begin the 29th of August.

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