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updated: 10/26/2011 4:58 PM

Sheley asks for new trial in Galesburg conviction

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Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN -- Convicted killer Nicholas Sheley has asked for a new trial in the first of eight murder cases against him to go to court, a step his attorney said is likely to be denied but intended to precede an appeal.

Sheley was convicted in September of murder in the June 2008 beating death of Ronald Randall of Galesburg. He is charged in seven other deaths that month in Illinois and Missouri but has yet to be tried in those cases.

Motions like the one Karlin filed Oct. 17 in Knox County Circuit Court claiming mistakes were made at trial are routinely denied, Karlin said, but a necessary step before a verdict can be appealed.

"We have to ask the trial court first to correct it," he said Wednesday.

In his motion, Karlin argues that Knox County Circuit Judge James Stewart shouldn't have allowed gruesome photos from the crime scene and Randall's autopsy to be used at trial because they can cause jurors to make decision based on either sympathy for the victim or outrage rather than the facts of the case.

Karlin also cites what he said were dozens of other problems with the case.

They included:

-- Allowing videotaped testimony from a convenience store clerk who said she saw Sheley in the store around time Randall was killed. Pamela Sebben said in her testimony that she was "uneasy about how he looked," referring to blood on Sheley's face.

-- Allowing Sheley to act as his own attorney for several weeks before the trial.

-- Including jurors who said during the jury selection process that they were aware of the case against Sheley.

Sheley is scheduled to be sentenced in Randall's death on Nov. 18.

He is also charged in the June 2009 beating deaths of: 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling, who was found in his car trunk; 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 had been traveling.

Court proceedings have begun in Reed's death and Sheley has pleaded not guilty, but no trial date has been set. The other cases will follow.

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