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Murder trial is delayed

State’s attorney OK with Oct. 15 start

Nicholas T. Sheley
Nicholas T. Sheley

MORRISON – A judge on Friday delayed by 4 months the next murder trial of twice-convicted killer Nicholas T. Sheley.

The trial, which had been set for June 3, is now scheduled to start Oct. 15. Sheley, 33, of Sterling, is accused of murdering four people, including a 2-year-old boy, in a Rock Falls apartment in late June 2008.

In a pretrial hearing Friday in Whiteside County Court, Judge Jeffrey O’Connor said he was working under the belief that the trial would begin in June.

“Is there any reason that the trial date wouldn’t be in June?” he asked.

Sheley’s attorney, Jeremy Karlin, then asked for a delay until October “over my client’s personal objections.” Karlin said he had yet to receive a list of witnesses and evidence from prosecutors, and as such, he wouldn’t be ready to try the case in June.

State’s Attorney Trish Joyce said she had no objection as long as the delay wouldn’t be assessed against the state.

O’Connor agreed to the 4-month delay. He said that if the delay would mean that Sheley’s representation would be more complete, “that should be respected.”

Earlier this month, Karlin filed a request to move the trial out of Whiteside County, contending pretrial publicity and “community outrage” would taint the pool of prospective jurors and prevent Sheley from getting a fair trial.

At Friday’s hearing, Joyce said she had yet to file a response to Karlin’s request.

Karlin said he had thought the venue issue would be resolved at Friday’s hearing.

The judge said the court would address that issue at the next pretrial hearing, which is set for April 26.

Sheley is charged in the deaths of Brock Branson, 29; his fiancée Kilynna Blake, 20; her 2-year-old son, Dayan; and Kenneth Ulve, 25. Sheley is facing 15 counts of first-degree murder in the case.

In January, Sheley was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the bludgeoning death of Russell Reed, 93, of rural Sterling.

Sheley earlier was sentenced to life without parole in the death of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg. Sheley has appealed that sentence.

He also is charged in Missouri with the murders of an Arkansas couple during the spree killings over a few days in the summer of 2008.

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