MORRISON – As the prosecution of twice-convicted killer Nicholas Sheley winds down in Illinois, his last case could carry the ultimate penalty.
Sheley, already serving two terms of life without parole, is charged in Missouri with the deaths of Arkansas couple Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, of Arkansas.
The couple were killed June 29, 2008, at their hotel in Festus, Mo., where they were attending a family graduation. Their bodies were found a day later behind a gas station.
Missouri is among 33 states that still have the death penalty. Since 1976, Missouri has executed 68 people. Forty-eight inmates were on the state's death row as of October 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Forrest Wegge said Friday that he had not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty. That decision won't come until Sheley is taken to Missouri to face the charges, Wegge said.
Prosecutors in Illinois have kept him up-to-date with the cases, he said, and he "couldn't be more pleased" with the communication.
Sheley, 33, already has been convicted in the deaths of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling, and Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.
He also is charged in the deaths of four people in Rock Falls. Police and prosecutors say all eight were killed during an 8-day, two-state killing spree in late June 2008.
Prosecutors in Knox County at first sought the death penalty against Sheley for Randall's death. That effort was dropped after Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law in March 2011 that abolished the death penalty in Illinois.
If Sheley is convicted and sentenced to death in Missouri, he likely will serve out the remainder of his sentences there.
Illinois Department of Corrections spokeswoman Stacey Solana declined to comment specifically on Sheley's case.
Solano said that in cases where an Illinois inmate has a trial or conviction in another state, the inmate remains here unless the other state takes the necessary steps to get the inmate transferred.