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State

Nicholas Sheley sentenced to 4 more life terms

MORRISON – A man serving two life sentences for a pair of Illinois killings was sentenced Monday to four more.

Nicholas Sheley was convicted of murder in May for fatally beating three adults and a 2-year-old with a hammer in a northwest Illinois apartment. The Telegraph in Dixon reported he was sentenced Monday to four life terms for those deaths.

The killings were part of a series of eight murders authorities say Sheley committed in the summer of 2008, stretching from his hometown of Sterling, Illinois, south to St. Louis.

Sheley is already serving life sentences for the deaths of two Illinois men that June. He next faces trial in Missouri, where prosecutors can pursue the death penalty in the deaths of Jill and Tom Estes, a Sherwood, Arkansas, couple who were traveling in that state.

The sentences imposed Monday were for the killings of 29-year-old Brock Branson; 20-year-old Kilynna Blake and her son, 2-year-old Dayan; and 25-year-old Kenneth Ulve in Rock Falls in June 2008.

"Life in prison is the only appropriate sentence under Illinois law for these heinous crimes," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said in a statement. "Today's sentencing ensures that Nicholas Sheley will continue to pay for his actions for the remainder of his life."

Police have said the violence was fueled by alcohol and drugs. Prosecutors said Sheley believed Branson was having an affair with his then-wife, Holly Sheley.

The killings in Rock Falls shook the town of about 9,200. Local officials have said that after the four were found dead in their apartment, many in town were afraid to go outside for days.

An autopsy showed all four were killed by multiple blows from a hammer.

The prosecution's case focused heavily on the Sheley's DNA, which experts said was found in the apartment. Prosecutors also showed images of Sheley taken from security cameras in the days following the killings in which he wore clothing belonging to one of the victims.

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