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Convicted killer wants new trial

Defense files motion citing judicial errors

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Nicholas T. Sheley

MORRISON – Twice-convicted killer Nicholas T. Sheley wants a new trial.

Galesburg attorney Jeremy Karlin filed a motion late last month that cites 89 judicial errors, including allowing people to sit on the jury who had prior knowledge of the case. 

The motion will be heard Jan. 16, the day Sheley will be sentenced in the bludgeoning death of Russell Reed, 93.

A Whiteside County jury deliberated more than 2 hours Nov. 6 and found the 33-year-old Sterling man guilty of first-degree murder, home invasion and residential burglary after a weeklong trial.

Reed was killed in his Blue Goose Road home in rural Sterling on June 23, 2008 and his body was put into the trunk of his own car. The car was found 3 days later parked in the driveway of his brother’s girlfriend.

Sheley faces life without parole.

In the motion for a new trial – a common defense tactic before sentencing – Karlin says Rock Island Judge F. Michael Meersman erred when he:

n Denied a defense motion to move the trial out of Whiteside County on Dec. 22, 2011.

n Denied defense and prosecutors’ bloodstainmotions objecting to extended media coverage – filming and photographing – of pretrial hearings and the trial.

n Denied a motion for a mistrial after it was discovered that two potential jurors made comments about the case in front of other potential jurors who were waiting to be questioned by attorneys and Meersman.

n Allowed Holly Sheley to testify about how much her husband spent on drugs without laying the “proper foundation.”

n Allowed the testimony of Tom Merchie, a retired crime scene investigator for the state police, who testified that it was his opinion that a “bloody object” was dragged through Reed’s house and out to his garage based on the bloodstain patterns he analyzed.

n Did not order a fitness examination of Sheley prior to trial after Karlin said Sheley was taking a new medication for anxiety, depression, and insomnia, that made it difficult for him to focus.

Sheley already is serving life without parole in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.

He will be tried next in the deaths of four Rock Falls people. Karlin has not yet said whether he will represent Sheley in that case.

Sheley also is charged in the deaths of four people killed in Rock Falls and an Arkansas couple killed in Festus, Mo.

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