HILLSBORO, Mo. – A change-of-venue hearing for a Sterling man facing the death sentence if convicted of killing his seventh and eighth victims has been moved to Jan. 8.
Nicholas Sheley, 36, of Sterling, already serving six life sentences for slayings in Sterling, Rock Falls and Galesburg, is being tried in Jefferson County Court in Missouri for the bludgeoning deaths of Jill and Tom Estes of Sherwood, Arkansas.
The couple were killed in the parking lot of a Festus, Missouri, hotel on June 30, 2008.
Sheley said in his motion that he is unable to get a fair trial in Jefferson County. His attorney, Sharon Turlington, could not be reached for comment.
In September 2011, Sheley was convicted in Knox County of killing 65-year-old Ronald Randall, whose body was found behind a Galesburg grocery store. In November 2012, he was convicted in Whiteside County of bludgeoning 93-year-old Russel Reed in his home in rural western Sterling. His requests for a change of venue in those trials were denied.
In April 2013, citing pretrial publicity, he won his third request for a change of venue, and his second Whiteside County trial was moved to Rock Island County.
In May 2014, he was convicted of killing four people – Brock Branson, 29; his fiancée Kilynna Blake, 20; her 2-year-old son Dayan; and Kenneth Ulve, 25 – with a hammer in a Rock Falls apartment.
All six, and the Esteses, were killed between June 23 and 30, 2008.
According to court records, the Missouri prosecutor based his decision to pursue the death penalty on the six Illinois murders and on three other aggravating circumstances, including Sheley's attempt to rob the Estes while committing an “outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman” killing.