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Opening Statements in Trial of Accused Killer of Eight

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Nicholas Sheley

Nicholas Sheley

GALESBURG, ILL.(AP)-Prosecutors opened the first trial of a man charged in eight killings by saying that a long and bloody
trail of evidence points to the defendant’s guilt.

Prosecutor Bill Elward said defendant Nicholas Sheley’s wife will testify that he picked her up in victim Ronald Randall’s blood-soaked truck the night he’s accused of killing the 65 year old Galesburg retiree.

Sheley has pleaded not guilty to killing Randall in June 2008.

Defense attorney Jeremy Karlin asked jurors to put aside what they’ve heard about the heavily publicized case arguing Sheley might not get a fair trial in Galesburg.

Sheley also has pleaded not guilty in five other deaths in Illinois and two in Festus, Missouri. Those trials will take place later.

Investigators say Sheley’s crime spree began with the robbery of a 90-year-old Sterling, Illinois woman in June of 2008. 12 days later, authorities found the body of 93-year old Russell Reed in the trunk of his car in Sterling. Four days after that, the bodies of an Arkansas couple, Jill and Tom Estes were found behind a gas station in Festus, Missouri and less than two hours later, Randall’s body was discovered behind a grocery store in Galesburg, Illinois. Investigators say on the same day the bodies of Brock Branson, 29, Kenneth Ulve, 25, Kilynna Blake, 20, and her son Dayan Blake, 2, are found in an apartment in Rock Falls.

Sheley was arrested days later at a bar in Granite City after someone recognized him from media reports.

Nine months after Sheley was charged in Randal’s murder, he attacked jail guards in the Knox County jail with the legs he’d removed from metal chairs. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for that crime.

The death penalty was on the table earlier this year but prosecutors formally drop it in March after Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the sentence in Illinois.

Copyright Associated Press

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