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Delays make justice elusive

By the time Nicholas Sheley is tried for four Rock Falls killings, nearly 6 years will have passed. That is not our idea of justice.

Published: Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

During a 6-day, two-state killing spree in late June 2008, eight people were brutally beaten to death, including five victims in Whiteside County.

Nicholas T. Sheley, then 28, of Sterling, was arrested and charged with the crimes.

How much more time will it take before Sheley is tried for all of the deaths?

At least 4 months longer, after a Rock Island County judge last week agreed to postpone the latest Sheley trial from January until May.

Of the eight deaths, Sheley has been convicted of two killings. In September 2011, a Knox County jury convicted him of killing a Galesburg man. In November 2012, a Whiteside County jury convicted him of killing a Sterling man.

A trial for the killings of four people in a Rock Falls apartment was then scheduled for June 2013.

Then the trial was delayed until October.

Then it was delayed until January 2014.

Now, it has been delayed until May 2014.

That is a full 18 months after the previous trial ended.

And it will be one month shy of 6 years since the horrible murder spree took place.

In the latest delay, Sheley’s defense attorney asked for more time to analyze DNA material put forth by the prosecution, and the judge approved his request for an additional 4 months.

Good grief.

Somewhere along the line, the rights of victims’ families must factor more significantly into decisions on how long such trials should be delayed. Granting three delays totaling 11 months is not our idea of justice.

Jury selection is now scheduled for May 12. Testimony is scheduled to begin May 19.

This time, let the trial proceed as scheduled.

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