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Witnesses in Sheley case object to cameras in court

Judge rejected similar requests in previous trial

Published: Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013 1:15 a.m. CST
Nicholas T. Sheley

MORRISON – Three potential state's witnesses in Nicholas Sheley's upcoming murder trial are objecting to cameras being allowed in the courtroom during their testimonies.

On June 13, the court first heard the motion for extended media coverage, to which Whiteside County State's Attorney Trish Joyce had no objection. It was decided then that any objections filed by witnesses would be handled later.

"My concern about coverage of proceedings is generally in regard to pretrial matters, and only if that coverage affects the ability to seat an impartial jury or otherwise jeopardizes the presentation of a case," Joyce said.

Joyce said any witness in a case for which extended media coverage has been allowed has the right to file an objection to the coverage of their testimony. Cameras still would be allowed throughout the remainder of the proceedings.

The three potential witnesses who filed objections are from the Illinois State Police, the St. Louis Metro Police Department, and Festus, Mo.

A hearing on the objections will be at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in Whiteside County Court.

Similar objections to cameras were filed in the 2012 Whiteside County Sheley trial, but they were overruled by Judge Jeffrey O'Connor, the same judge presiding over the current case.

Sheley, 34, is facing 15 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four people who were found beaten to death in a Rock Falls apartment 5 years ago: Brock Branson, 29; his fiancée Kilynna Blake, 20; her 2-year-old son, Dayan; and Kenneth Ulve, 25.

He already has been convicted of the murders of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, and Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling. He is serving two life sentences without parole for those murders.

Sheley also is charged in the deaths of Arkansas couple Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, who were killed in Festus, Mo.

His trial is set for Jan. 10 in Rock Island County Court.

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