ROCK ISLAND – Seven hours after attorneys began questioning prospective jurors for the murder trial of Nicholas Sheley, none have been formally accepted, though that’s not to say they didn’t come close.
Forty prospective jurors were brought into the Rock Island County Justice Center on Monday, but only 15 made it to questioning.
Of those questioned, 10 were dismissed for cause, and two were dismissed without cause – one each by the defense and prosecution. Each side is allowed to dismiss seven people without cause. Judge Jeffrey O’Connor can approve an unlimited number of dismissals for cause.
The three remaining prospective jurors, two women and one man, were asked to return today.
Presentation of evidence is expected to begin at the end of this week in Sheley’s third murder trial. The 34-year-old Sterling man is charged with 15 counts of first-degree murder for the June 28, 2008, deaths of Brock Branson, 29; his fiancée, Kilynna Blake, 20; her 2-year-old son, Dayan; and Kenneth Ulve, 25. Their bodies were found in their Rock Falls apartment 2 days after their deaths.
Though a murder weapon has never been recovered, prosecutors say he killed the four with a hammer.
Sheley already is serving two life sentences for the murders of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg, and Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling; and is charged in the deaths of Arkansas couple Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, who were killed in Festus, Missouri.
Prosecutors say the string of deaths occurred during a weeklong, drug- and alcohol-fueled killing spree during the summer of 2008.
Follow Sauk Valley Media reporter on Twitter for live updates from the courtroom: @SeaWarren.