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Witnesses testify Sheley covered in blood night of killing

MORRISON – Nicholas T. Sheley smoked crack with a Sterling couple and asked them where he could cash a check the night 93-year-old Russell Reed was killed, a Sterling woman testified Wednesday.

Amber Gonzales saw blood on the jeans shorts Sheley was wearing. When her husband asked him about the blood, Sheley said, "I just got done killing somebody," she testified.

Sheley then laughed and said he actually had been gutting fish, she told the jury.

Gonzales was one of eight witnesses to testify Wednesday, the third day of Sheley's murder trial. The 33-year-old Sterling man is charged with killing Reed, a farmer, in his home at Blue Goose Road on June 23, 2008. Prosecutors say Sheley stole Reed's wallet, his checkbook, and his 2003 Buick Century.

Video: Click here to see Amber Gonzales testify

Reed's body was discovered in the trunk of the car 3 days later. His wallet and checkbook were found several weeks later under a pile of leaves and twigs near a local funeral home.

Gonzales, 27, testified that sometime after dark on June 23, Sheley knocked on her door and her husband, Dealon, invited him ­ against her wishes ­ up to their apartment.

Sheley asked Dealon Gonzales if he could get some crack, Amber Gonzales testified, and the three smoked it in the couple's living room.

She testified that she took only one hit.

Sheley also asked where he could cash a check, Amber Gonzales testified, and Dealon Gonzales directed him to a local gas station.

Sheley then asked whether Dealon Gonzales could get more crack if he came back with cash, she testified.

Amber Gonzales also testified at the 2009 bench trial of Joshua Sheley, Nick's brother, that she saw blood on Sheley's clothing that night, but she did not testify then about the check or drug use.

A judge acquitted Joshua Sheley, 34, of helping to conceal Reed's death.

Under cross-examination Wednesday by defense attorney Jeremy Karlin, Gonzales said she did not tell police about the check or drug use in her first interviews with police.

She testified that she was "scared" to admit to the drug use.

Karlin also asked whether her husband was a crack dealer. She said no, that he just got he drugs for Sheley but said she didn't know whether he got money for it.

Megan Nance, 26, of Dixon, testified that she, too, had seen blood on Sheley's shorts and T-shirt. She was a cashier at Casey's General Store around 9:35 p.m. when Sheley came in to buy cigarettes and beer.

A video surveillance tape from the store shows a large, red stain on his shorts. 

Video: Click here to see Megan Nance testify

Much of the testimony Wednesday also centered on the afternoon of June 26, 2008, when police found Reed's Buick.

Retired sheriff's deputy Frank Garcia testified that he was sent to 1732 Griswold Ave. about 2:40 p.m that day.

The home belonged to Jenna Henson, the then-girlfriend of Joshua Sheley. Garcia testified Wednesday that he was sent to question them about Sheley's whereabouts after police found his green 1996 Cadillac on Reed's property.

Reed's sons had reported their father missing hours earlier.

Garcia testified that as he pulled up the driveway, he saw a Buick matching the description of Reed's car backed all the way into the driveway.

State Police crime scene investigator Bethe Hughes testified that she was called to the scene about 3:15 p.m.

She had been called to Reed's home to photograph the scene that morning.

Hughes noticed that there were flies on the back deck of the interior of the car that she recognized from other death investigations.

She testified that she could "smell the smell of decomposition" around the trunk of the car. A cadaver dog hit on the trunk, which indicated that a body was inside or had been inside, she testified.

The trunk of the car was opened after police got a seizure order. Inside, they found the body of a man in a “semi-fetal position” that was wearing clothing that Reed was wearing the last time anyone saw him, Hughes testified.

His shirt was hiked up and his pants and belt were pushed down, she testified.

After the coroner pronounced Reed dead, the Buick was towed to the Sterling Fire Department for further examination. Hughes testified that the body was “very bloody” and there was a lot of swelling and bruising. She could not tell how many injuries Reed had.

She dusted the outside of the vehicle for fingerprints but could not find any, she testified.

Danny Porter, who lives across the street from Henson, testified that on June 24, he saw two men drive a tan Buick into Henson's driveway and knock on her door.

Henson then pulled her car out of the driveway so the men could back the Buick in, Porter testified.

The car never moved, he testified. After police found the car, Porter picked out Sheley from a photo line-up as one of the men inside the Buick, he testified.

Testimony from state's witnesses will continue today.

Sheley, who also is charged with six other deaths, is serving life withought parole in the murder of a 65-year-old Galesburg man.

At the end of the day Wednesday, Judge F. Michael Meersman excused one of the men from the jury.

An attorney representing Gonzales during her testimony had informed attorneys that he had represented the juror in a divorce case and that there was a pending child support matter.

Jurors are asked to list civil and criminal matters, both past and present, on their questionnaire during jury selection.

Meersman said that a divorce case is different from being a party in a lawsuit or charged with a crime, but he dismissed the juror anyway.

Whiteside County State's Attorney Gary Spencer said he had wanted to bring it to the court's attention, but didn't think it should automatically disqualify the juror from serving.

Karlin asked that the juror be dismissed for cause. One of three alternate jurors will take that seat on the 12-member jury.

Judge Meersman apologized to the man, saying that the questionnaire wasn't clear and that "I'm sorry it took three days for this to come out."

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