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State

Man accused in 8 deaths gets 2nd life sentence

MORRISON – An Illinois man accused of killing eight people from two states during a 2008 spree was given a second life sentence Wednesday, this time in the death of a 93-year-old man.

A judge in Whiteside County also sentenced Nicholas T. Sheley to 30 years for home invasion and 15 years for residential burglary in the case involving Russell Reed, of Sterling. Jurors convicted Sheley in November. He already was serving life in prison for the murder of Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.

Reed’s daughter-in-law, Bonnie Reed, gave an emotional statement in court, calling Sheley an “animal,” The (Sterling) Daily Gazette reported.

“I hope you look at this case the rest of your life and think of nothing but what you did,” she said. “In memory of Russell Reed, the first one that you killed, I hope you never forget what you did.”

Sheley declined to give a statement in court. The judge also denied a request from Sheley’s defense attorney for a new trial in Reed’s killing.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement that life in prison was the appropriate sentence.

“Today’s sentencing ensures that Nicholas Sheley will continue to pay for his actions for the remainder of his life,” Madigan said.

Prosecutors said Sheley killed Reed in his home in Sterling about 115 miles west of Chicago on June 23, 2008, and stole his car. Reed’s body was found in the car’s trunk three days later.

Four days after Reed was found, the bodies of Brock Branson, 29; Kenneth Ulve, 25; Kilynna Blake, 20; and Blake’s 2-year-old son, Dayan, were found in an apartment in Rock Falls. The town sits just across the Rock River from Sterling.

That same day, Randall was found behind a grocery store 80 miles southwest in Galesburg, and a Sherwood, Ark., couple attending a graduation in Missouri were found behind a gas station in Festus, south of St. Louis. Jill and Tom Estes were 54.

Sheley was arrested outside a Granite City bar the next day.

Sheley’s third and next trial is tentatively set for June in the four deaths in Rock Falls.

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