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No. 2 top story of 2012: Sheley guilty

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Alex T. Paschal/
Nichoas Sheley is led into the courtroom Nov. 6 for the start of closing arguments in his murder trial at the Whiteside County Courthouse in Morrison. A jury took just more than 2 hours to find Sheley guilty of first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary in the June 23, 2008, death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling. Sheley will be sentenced Jan. 16.

MORRISON – For the second time in more than a year, Nicholas T. Sheley of Sterling heard the word that sealed his fate: Guilty.

On Nov. 6, a Whiteside County jury found the 33-year-old guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling.

Prosecutors say Reed is the first of eight people Sheley killed during a weeklong drug- and alcohol-fueled killing spree in late June 2008.

Desperate for crack cocaine, they say, Sheley went to Reed’s Blue Goose Road home on June 23, 2008, beat him to death, took his wallet, and put his body in the trunk of Reed’s own 2003 Buick Century.

Reed’s badly decomposed body was found 3 days later in the trunk of the car, which was parked in the driveway at the residence of his brother’s then-girlfriend.

Sheley faces life in prison at his Jan. 16 sentencing. He’s already serving life without parole for killing Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, on June 28, 2008, Sheley’s second victim.

Sheley’s days in the courtroom are not even close to being over. Whiteside County also will try him in the deaths of Brock Branson, 29, his fiancee, Kilynna Blake, 20, her 2-year-old son Dayan, and Kenneth Ulve, 25, all of Rock Falls.

Prosecutors say Sheley killed them in their Rock Falls apartment on June 28, 2008. Their bodies were found 2 days later.

Newly elected Whiteside County State’s Attorney Trish Joyce told Sauk Valley Media earlier this month that she will prosecute the case “as soon as humanly possible.”

His attorney, Jeremy Karlin of Galesburg, has not said whether he will represent Sheley in the upcoming trial.

Sheley also is charged in the deaths of Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, of Sherwood, Ark.; prosecutors say he killed them on June 29, 2008, in Festus, Mo. Their bodies were found a day later behind a local gas station.

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