Sunday, April 17, 2011

Motion Of The Day...Once Again Nicholas Sheley Wants To Go Pro Se- Updated

Updated 4/17/2011 at bottom of post

 original post April 4
Newest mugshots at Pontiac Correctional Center
When I left home on March 29, 2011 for the Knox County courthouse to attend a case management hearing in the capital murder case of  Nicholas Sheley, accused of killing Ronald Randall,65, in Galesburg, IL., I told Mr. Katfish not to expect me back for several hours as this might turn out to be a long hearing.

This will be the first trial that Sheley faces related to the June 2008 killing spree of eight people that he is accused of. He also faces first degree murder charges in Whiteside County, IL for the deaths of 5 people and Festus, MO for the death of 2 other people. You can read about the killing spree here if you aren't familiar with the case.

I'm not sure what to expect today because this is the first hearing since IL Governor Patrick Quinn signed off on legislation to abolish the death penalty in IL on March 9. That legislation doesn't take effect until July 1, 2011, so unless the state decides to take the DP off the table before then, this will continue as a capital murder case until the legislation takes effect. At the last hearing, on February 4, there was discussion of discovery and evidentiary issues that may be argued at today's hearing, March 29. I wasn't able to blog about that hearing but
will reference it some in this post.

At a hearing on February 4, both parties argued a


According to the Defense Motion To Vacate, There was a closed hearing on September 14, 2010  where the parties argued the State's First Motion in Limine to Admit Course Of Conduct Evidence and the Defense Response. After the Court reviewed the written and oral arguments of both parties, the court made a ruling as to what evidence would be allowed and ordered the state to prepare an order reflecting the court's ruling. On December 15, 2010 the state presented the order to the defense for review and the next day the state submitted the order to the court. The defense argued they had not been given sufficient time to review the order and the court allowed 2 weeks for resolve the issue with the state. It seems when the defense responded to the office of Bill Elward on December 28th so they could resolve any disputes to the language in the order, he was out of the office and he didn't return until January 2. On January 3 the court issued the ruling without further input from the parties; therefore, the defense sought to have the order vacated and reissued.

I can't tell you much about the order because it was under seal along with the original briefings. It was disclosed in the Defense Motion To Vacate that during the closed hearing the state conceded that even though they previously had stated in open court that they would seek to admit every prior bad act in Sheley's history, they had decided they would not seek to use every prior bad act, but just those relevant to this case....that is unless the defense opens that door at trial.

On February 4 Judge James Stewart said he held the order for 2 weeks and no one objected or let him know there was a problem so he issued the order on January 3. The state contends they tracked the court's ruling from the transcript of the September 14 hearing word for word.  Judge Stewart ordered both sides to file a redacted motion in limine with an offer of proof and a defense response within 2 weeks to be placed in the public record. (redaction's to eliminate any course of conduct evidence not allowed to be used). If I understand it correctly in the defense motion to vacate they contend, on September 14, the judge didn't make a ruling on the evidence but would tailor the courts ruling to was what specified in the the hearing by the state.

 Last week I picked up the redacted copies of the motions and pleadings, however I didn't see a new order in the file. It's possible I missed it, that is a heavy file. I linked all of the motions and pleadings mentioned in this post that aren't sealed on my docstock account so you can read them. As it turns out the course of conduct evidence wasn't even discussed in the March 29 hearing but I have been told it will be dealt with in the future.

and the  

I was expecting an interesting hearing....and man ~ o ~ man interesting is an understatement.

Here is my in the courtroom report from the March 29 hearing:

When I came into the courtroom I wasn't surprised to see there were several from Ronald Randall's family here, they always arrive early and sit in  front row behind the prosecution. In the second row behind them is Shirley Pringle, the Knox County Victims Rights Advocate and a woman I have seen in court with Shirley before although I have never met her. The front row behind the defense table was reserved for the accredited press and there were already three members of the press seated.

In the second row behind the press was lead defense attorney Jeremy Karlin's administrative assistant and another young woman who looked familiar but I couldn't place.(I later learn she is Marissa Pendergrass from the CBS channel 4 (WHBF) in the Quad Cities. I embedded Marissa's video of Sheley leaving the courthouse and interviews with the State's Attorney, John Pepmeyer and Lead Defense Counsel, Jeremy Karlin at the end of my "in the courtroom" sure to check it out.)

 I went behind Shirley and the other woman to my regular seat against a pole at the farthest end of the second row. After I took my seat, Shirley introduced me to the woman with her, her name is Stacy Dutton. Stacy is a very pleasant woman. I learned that Stacy is Shirley's replacement as Knox County Victim's Rights Advocate. Shirley tells me she retired last Fall. How the heck did I miss that? I did miss some hearings in November and December but the Shirley has been at every hearing I have attended so I didn't realize she was gone. LOL! Congratulations to Shirley and to Stacy!

The attorneys for both sides are standing at their tables. On the far right going left for the state is Michael Atterberry Assistant Attorney General, then Knox County State's Attorney John Pepmeyer, and closest to the defense is Bill Elward Assistant Attorney General. At the defense table right to left is court appointed Lead Attorney Jeremy Karlin and next to him is Co-counsel Anthony Vaupel, there is an empty chair next to Vaupel for the defendant.The court reporter and clerk are in place. It looks like everyone is ready to go to work. All we need now is the defendant and the judge. The clock is gone in the courtroom so I won't be able to track time. I see the Bailiff get confirmation they were ready for Sheley and shortly after he is escorted into the courtroom by several IL Department of Corrections officers and several Knox County Sheriff's deputies and bailiffs.

Nicholas Sheley is wearing a white button down short sleeve shirt and black pants. His hair seems to have grown out even since the latest mugshot at Pontiac shown above and is slicked back reminiscent of a 60's greaser. I wonder why his clothing has changed ? He used to wear a tan scrubs when coming from Pontiac. Has his status changed at the prison or have they just had a uniform change? If anyone knows I would like to hear. Last I knew he was in protective custody....has he been moved to general population? The waist and ankle shackles are louder today as he walks in and they look a little heavier...another hmmm. As soon as Sheley gets seated he says fairly loud, "What the fuck you looking at?" Vaupel touches his arm as if to say calm down. Sheley's comment seems to be directed at Bill Elward. For some reason Mr. Elward seems to be on Sheley's 'list'. He wrote a long scathing letter to the Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart on Christmas Day 2009 about Bill Elward that was made a part of the public record. I have the letter posted here. Sheley motions for Jeremy Karlin to come over and then Sheley, Karlin and Vaupel go back to the holding area outside of the courtroom with the security detail.

Judge Stewart enters the courtroom and calls court to order then notices that the defense table is empty so we wait, the attorneys and those of us in the gallery go ahead and sit down.. It didn't take long before Sheley, his security detail and attorneys come back in. Sheley doesn't look happy. I can't see either attorney's face.
Stewart acknowledges both parties for the record and says," This case management hearing has been scheduled per Supreme Court rules." He mentions that the new law passed by the Governor takes away the death penalty, effective July 1, and notes that will effect this case.

John Pepmeyer stands to address the court and says that counsel for both parties have met prior to the hearing and agreed to September 19, 2011 for a trial date. That lightens the atmosphere in the courtroom a's about time. When Judge Stewart confirms that date with Jeremy Karlin, it's apparent Mr. Karlin is frustrated. (I don't think he even rose to address the court, which is unusual for him) Karlin replies he has no authority to set a trial date because of the document Mr. Sheley has just handed him. 

John Pepmeyer once again addresses the court and says the state is filing a motion to "de-certify" the death penalty in this case, adding the death penalty is no longer an available remedy in this case. (So it's official this is no longer a death penalty case as of today.) Judge Stewart makes sure the defense has a copy from the state. Pepmeyer also said he wants to make a record the people have tendered discovery labeled 14, contains enumerated fingerprint evidence. (Anthony Vaupel brought up this fingerprint evidence at the February hearing. I also remember Vaupel saying something about a deposition but I can't remember if that had to do with the fingerprints. My notes do say the state response was if the Governor signed the legislation the defense would not be entitled to the deposition. Moot point now I guess.)

Jeremy Karlin approached the bench and presented the court with a motion handwritten by Sheley stating his intention to represent himself.  This motion seems to have caught defense counsel by surprise as much as everyone else. Karlin gave the thick stack of papers to the judge and said they have not even read the motion yet and Sheley had advised the court this was the only copy. Karlin continued speaking as he returned to the defense table.....Mr. Sheley has instructed by his Pro Se Motion to bar any court appointed defense or any further mental health evaluation.

Bill Elward stood and said, " If he wants to play lawyer let him, and he can follow the rules. I apologize, this is just one more tactic from this defendant. If he wants to represent himself he must follow procedure. In order to file a motion he must provide copies to all parties, the court should not accept the motion until then."

Sheley is whispering to his attorneys. Judge Stewart says he will give 30 days for the defense to read the motion and decide how they will proceed. Stewart gets a date from the clerk and says April 25 at 9:30 a.m. adding there already has been an expert who has filed a report.

Elward addresses the court again, "For the record two Doctors evaluated and filed reports. (He says something about funding that I missed.) At what point do we get a copy? We are abundantly aware this is a delay occasioned by the defendant."

Sheley asks to address the court. Judge Stewart tells him he can't at this point. One of his attorney speaks for Sheley, " There are no copies because the exhibits included with the motion are under seal. There is no expectation of privacy in the DOC library anyone could see them. Not trying to play a game."

(My notes say he still has the obligation. It is what it is - remains un-filed. Sorry this is so cryptic, my notes don't say who said this, whether it is the judge or the state, likely it was Mr. Elward because my notes do show he spoke next.) 

Elward addresses the court again, " Ask Mr. Sheley if he is aware of the consequences? (of filing the motion)  We will be able to read and review."

Sheley then acknowledges that he understands.

( I have a few cryptic notes again  with no mention of who spoke....about a Motion to Extend, a Motion to Compel, additional discovery or affirmative defenses, trial testimony from his brother's trial. I believe these are issues that would have been addressed today until Sheley dropped his latest bombshell. I drew an arrow to the April 25 date, so evidently these issues will be addressed then.)

Judge Stewart says," We do still have to address this change in the law as to Mr. Vaupel. This should end Mr. Vaupel's services. " Stewart then ended the hearing.

Jeremy Karlin stands and asks the court to go back on record. Once we are back on record Karlin says
" Those documents were filed under seal to preserve the jury pool."
Elward is on his feet my notes just say NO.
Judge Stewart says he will not protect Mr. Sheley from his decisions, most were filed under seal because this was a capital case .(Emphasis mine)
John Pepmeyer asks the court to make copies of Sheley's motion....(which makes the motion public record).
I honestly didn't hear the judge end the hearing thoughts were more along the lines of I want a copy of that motion. And $73.00 later I have it! I will address Sheley's motion and the exhibits he included in another post...this is long enough. A few thoughts from skimming the motion is that Sheley says over and over again how well he has conducted himself in court....well...except for that one time when he wasn't allowed to represent himself earlier in the case. I guess starting out this hearing with "What the fuck you looking at " just might count as a second example where he couldn't control himself. Included in the exhibits with Sheley's motion are his psych is noted he has impulse control problems....well yeah, ya think?! Stay tuned and be sure to watch Channel 4's video under this paragraph.


UPDATE 4/17- Here is are  links to  Nicholas Sheley's handwritten Pro Se Motion. I am having trouble loading it on Docstock as a whole document, so I have split it into 3 parts. Be advised that on part 1 page 22 shows up first because I missed it when scanning. I can get page 22 in it's proper spot as a whole document  but not when separated as Docstock is requiring. grrrr...I WILL figure this out!

Nicholas Sheley Handwritten Pro Se Motion part 1
Nicholas Sheley Handwritten Pro Se Motion part 2
Nicholas Sheley Handwritten Pro Se Motion part 3 Sphere: Related Content


  1. I read about his killing spree when it happened. I have been reading your thoughts as you have attended these many hearings. He appears to be one scary fellow. I cannot even imagine how he will be defending himself. No doubt by intimidating the witnesses. The delays, the objections, the jury's frustration and perhaps their being intimidated by him. Do you find him frightening? Do you think he would create chaos? Or do you think HE thinks he is so far superior, more brilliant than those around him that he will pull it off. Or will he lose it. The letter to the judge shows arrogance in that he thinks the judge will even entertain anything he has written as well as immaturity. Whenever I read or watch a court case, I put myself in the position of the victim's family and my heart just breaks for them thinking how I would feel to see these shenanigans taking place in court.
    I look forward to your next report. Thank you.

  2. Well anon 4/5,
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts....and you are spot on too.

    As for Sheley representing's hard to say what will happen. Much depends on the stance his defense team takes in reply to his motion. The 2 seperate psychiatric evaluations done earlier in the case, when he wanted to fire his lawyers, had differing opinions. They both had similar diagnosis but the state's expert found him capable of representing himself and the defense expert didn't.

    I am trying to digest all of Sheley's Pro Se motion and the attached exhibits so I can write about it (I haven't counted but heard it's almost 300 pages...73 bucks worth!). When he presented his defense with that motion and all those exhibits, I think he thought it would all remain sealed. His willingness to put all that out there just to get his own way exhibits his problem with controlling his impulses, he could have waited to file it after he was warned.

    This is no longer a death penalty case so as the judge said, "He will no longer protect him from his own decisions." I don't think the judge will allow him to intimidate the witnesses or jury and there is a lot of security when he is present. During the assault trial for the incident with the jailers they kept leg irons on him but they put a skirt on the tables so the jury wouldn't see. If he represents himself I don't think they will be able to do that.

    I need to go back and double check but I'm pretty sure if he represents himself there are no do overs.

    I too feel for the loved ones of all these victims, first for their losses but also for the long path that they will walk through as Sheley fanagles his way through the legal process.

    As for Sheley being scary...yeah....this is a man who is accused of bludgeoning 8 people to death up close and personal. I don't know if you read the motions I linked in this post but there is a lot of information in them that shows he made, imo, little to no effort to cover his tracks. In some of those motions his own attorneys don't seem to be challenging the validity of the evidence...there is so much evidence I think they are wise not to,finding experts to support that would be a challenge for one. Apparently what they are trying to do before trial is keep as much out of this trial that isn't specifically related to this case to try and ensure he is tried for Mr. Randall's death and related charges and not the entire spree. They have given him a vigorous defense and if he is so delusional to think he can do better....

    Early on in the case, some of Sheley's own family has said publicly he is responsible but seem to excuse it because of his drug and alcohol issues. I feel for some of them too, other than his brother, wife and cousin I don't know much about them. Given what I have heard of his childhood and seen of his criminal history I have the feeling Nick has always been a handful.

    Wow! I really opened up the flood gates here....
    Thanks again for stopping by!

  3. How does that old saying go, Katfish? Only a fool represents himself in court?

    This dude isn't only foolish, he's scary beyond all reason, and I am going to assume that during his self-representation they will keep him shackled, but how will a jury not see when he rises to question witnesses or asks to approach the bench, should he need to?

    I'm also going to assume that once he makes a miserable mess of this the judge will prohibit him from further self-representation. Is that possible?

    By the way, how is Mr. Katfish doing? I hope things are looking up for you two.


  4. Well Hello Feathers! So glad to "see" you. Hope you are well. Mr. Katfish does well a few days and then has bad ones. I'm spending alot of times these days in doctor's offices and ER's . My Mother's mental state has deteriorated quite a bit the last few weeks so multiply x 2. We still have home health for my dh and I'm trying to arrange home help for my Mom. As long as we can keep them both home so I can rest, I'm good. I know you're familiar with navigating the health care system....hurry up and wait. :)

    About Sheley.... foolish is as foolish does?

    In Sheley's motion, he does site case law for representing himself. I haven't been able to follow up on that yet or get through all of the exhibits. His handwritten motion alone is 59 pages....and nearly 300 when exhibits are included. Very interesting read!

    I'm pretty sure that once the court rules Sheley can represent himself that's it. They will not allow him to start stop in trial. He could still have counsel to guide him but because he doesn't want court appointed counsel he would need to hire someone. He has already been declared indigent so we know he can't afford to hire anyone. Given the number of trials in Sheley's future it seems if his family had resources they would save them for MO where he can still face the DP.

    I sure hope you're right about the shackles if he is allowed to represent himself but my gut says that would be too predjucial. Hopefully come April 25 the defense will have a response so we will have a better idea. I just hope this doesn't cause further delay.
    Thanks for stopping by. kat

  5. "Hurry up and wait", indeed, Katfish!

    I often wish I'd have taken up knitting. Knitting was probably invented by those accustomed to hurrying up to wait and wait and wait. A knitter could accomplish much in a busy doctor's office or crowded ER, where one need be at the brink of death in order to get past a triage nurse who isn't impressed with such things as kidney stones and closed fractures.

    We might consider scheduling all of our injuries and illnesses according to the availability of hospital beds and medical staff. Now there's thought.

    "I've scheduled my appendix to rupture on the 16th of June, will that be good for you too? No? Oh. How about the 17th? Would that be better? Great! The 17th it is then. I'll be in at 6:02."

    In all seriousness, though, my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Savor the good days. Don't cling to the bad days. Bask in those moments of sweet remembrance, ask for help when you need it and take it when it's offered so you might have a moment to remember there's a you.

    Big Hugs Katfish Ponders. Great big hugs to you.

    Now for Sheley. My God. I was astounded by the information in the docs you provided, Katfish. To me the man seems no less than derranged and to the point that I don't understand how the state could determine him competent enough to represent himself, or how a judge would allow him to do that!

    Who in their right mind would slaughter eight people and then allow himself to be seen wearing that blood as though it were nothing? This really gets to me - the number of people who saw him wearing the blood of his victims almost as though it were nothing. I wonder if he didn't think it some sort of a trophy!

    Certainly he's no less than a cold blooded killer and shackled or otherwise he's a danger to all who are around him, and especially those who'd oppose him, such as witnesses for the state will be. He has the right to question them should he be allowed to represent himself, and I hate to think what his response would be. I can almost see him lunging at a witness within the courtroom, or otherwise making it necessary for security to restrain him.

    If you're going to attend these trials please sit in the back. The way back away from him, Kat!

    Don't take this seriously but - do you mean to tell me that some hot shot attorney looking for his 5 minutes of fame and glory hasn't stepped up to the plate to offer his services free of charge? Not to worry, armed with their own psyche evals the defense will make a good case against self-representation, but of course, it will all be up to the judge.

    Every one in a while, in the midst of taking care of your hubby and mother, please don't forget about you, Katfish. It's an easy thing to do. I pray for far more good days than bad for all of you.


  6. It's going to be a long night, so I'm off to read Sheley's motion. It should indeed be a most interesting read.

    Good night to you, my friend.

  7. Oh poo! I just lost a long response to your wonderful comment Feathers :( I will give it another shot tomorrow. I did yard work today and I'm worn out. Good night to you too!

  8. Feathers, that wasn't Sheley's Pro Se Motion that you read. His motion is handwritten and I've added links to it. I think because it was handwritten the file was large and the only way I could get it to post on docstock was to split it in 3 parts.
    I really don't know what to expect as far as the court allowing to represent himself...if his defense fights it maybe not, but......
    For some reason I had to preview this before it would post. ???

  9. It was really nice to visit your post. I enjoyed a lot reading your post and Look forward more post from you guys. Thanks for sharing it.

  10. joomlasd, thank you for your kind comments! This is a very sad case.

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