Last week, two potential jurors in the Nicholas Sheley murder trial got in trouble with the judge.
During jury selection, officials said, both men admitted to commenting in front of other potential jurors that it was a waste of time and taxpayer money to try Sheley when he's already been convicted in another murder.
The judge reprimanded the men. He feared they could have biased other potential jurors.
"I think you both understand the situation you've created," Judge F. Michael Meersman told them. "If you don't, you're dumber than I thought."
The two men weren't the only ones who have expressed that opinion. Months ago, I heard a Whiteside County Board member say the same thing at a committee meeting.
County Board members are seeing mounting costs because of bills associated with the Sheley cases. One member wondered why the county even needed a trial because Sheley is already serving life in prison without parole for the murder of a 65-year-old Galesburg man. Besides that man, Sheley is accused in seven other deaths.
Could you imagine if our country dropped murder charges against those who are serving life in prison?
Victims' families and friends deserve seeing justice served. Let's assume Sheley weren't guilty of the other murders. If the state decided against holding trials, then the real perpetrator would remain at large.
Of course, no one likes to see mounds of money going toward the Sheley cases. But one of government's core functions is justice. It's part of that compact called the Constitution, which grants defendants certain rights.
Sure, it costs money, but would you want it any other way?
David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525.