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Sheley won't testify at trial

Closing arguments to be made Tuesday in murder case

MORRISON - Nicholas T. Sheley won't testify in his first Whiteside County murder trial, he told Judge F. Michael Meersman this morning.

His decision came moments after prosecutors rested their case following 6 days of testimony.

He declined to testify last year when he was tried in the beating death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.

Sheley's attorney, Jeremy Karlin of Galesburg, chose not to call any witnesses, so c losing arguments will begin Tuesday morning. The case then will be in the jury's hands.

Sheley, 33, of Sterling, is charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and one count each of home invasion and residential burglary in the death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling.

Prosecutors say Sheley killed Reed on June 23, 2008, in his Blue Goose Road home and stole his checkbook, wallet, and 2003 Buick Century.

Reed's body was found 3 days later in the trunk of the Buick, which was parked in the driveway of the home of Jenna Henson, who at the time was the girlfriend of Sheley's brother, Joshua.

Sheley also is charged in the deaths of a child and three adults in Rock Falls, and an Arkansas couple in Festus, Mo.

He is serving life without parole in Randall's death.

After prosecutors rested this morning, Karlin asked for, but was denied, a directed verdict.

A request for a directed verdict is typical after the prosecution rests, and usually is based on the argument that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to warrant a guilty verdict.

Karlin argued that prosecutors failed to prove the elements of the home invasion and residential burglary charges and presented no evidence that Sheley was in Reed's home without permission.

Whiteside County State's Attorney Gary Spencer argued that there is a "reasonable inference" that Sheley entered Reed's home without permission based on the evidence presented in court.

Though Karlin did not call any witnesses this morning, he did read the jury a short portion of a transcript of the testimony Sheley's wife, Holly, gave during a grand jury hearing in July 2008.

Karlin argued while the jury was not present that her testimony at this trial was inconsistent with what she said to the grand jury.

Holly Sheley testified last week that she and her husband had gotten into a fight on June 23, 2008, after going to Rockford to get a title loan on their 1996 Cadillac.

They argued, she testified, over Sheley's drinking and money. She testified that she bought Sheley alcohol that day and said that drinking usually led to crack cocaine use.

According to her grand jury testimony, Holly Sheley said the two had a disagreement that day over moving into a new place and who would watch their two kids.

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