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Trial set to begin in Sheley murder case

MORRISON – Attorneys are set to deliver opening statements today in the second murder trial of a man accused of bludgeoning to death eight people during a 2008 killing spree through Illinois and Missouri that lasted several days.

Nicholas Sheley, 33, has pleaded not guilty in the death of 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling in northwest Illinois. Sheley is charged with several counts of first-degree murder and one count each of home invasion and residential burglary.

Jury selection ended Friday with three alternates chosen to join the 12 jurors. Jurors include a certified nursing assistant, a retiree and a farmer. The evidence phase of the Whiteside County trial is expected to last two weeks.

The trial also is the first major test of Illinois’ experiment with cameras in the courtroom and will be watched by other counties to see how it goes.

Prosecutors allege that Sheley killed Reed in his home on June 23, 2008, and stole his wallet and car. Reed’s body was found days later in the trunk of his car.

Sheley has pleaded not guilty in all of the killings. He faces trials in six other deaths.

Last year, jurors convicted Sheley of killing Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.

Sheley was arrested outside a bar in Granite City in July 2008 and charged in the eight deaths. Investigators have said they believe the first person to die was Reed. The others killed include Kenneth Ulve, Brock Branson, Kilynna Blake and Blake’s 2-year-old son, Dayan, who were all found in a Rock Falls apartment; and Jill and Tom Estes of Sherwood, Ark., who were found dead in Festus, Mo., where they were traveling for a graduation.

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