Defense motion to preserve evidence granted in killing spree case

Michelle Anstett

The defense was granted a temporary motion Friday to preserve evidence in the case against a Sterling man accused of murder in Knox County.

Judge Steven Bordner agreed that a request filed by Knox County public defender Jim Harrell in the case of Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, was an emergency measure and did not require a separate hearing. Bordner also granted Harrell’s request to move back the scheduled date for a preliminary hearing.

Harrell will be out of town on the date of Sheley’s first scheduled hearing, so Bordner set the new hearing for 2 p.m. July 28.

Sheley is accused of bludgeoning Galesburg resident Ronald Randall, 65, to death at Southard’s Car Wash, sometime on the evening of June 28 and stealing his truck. Randall’s body was found around noon on June 30 next to a large trash bin at Hy-Vee Food Store. His truck was tracked through an OnStar global positioning system and located outside a brewery bottling facility in St. Louis.

Harrell, who was appointed as Sheley’s public defender in a hearing Wednesday, brought to the court’s attention a request he had submitted with the office of Knox County State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer to block any member of the state from speaking with his client without counsel present.

Pepmeyer has sought the assistance of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General in the case.

Due to the seriousness of the charges, Harrell next moved for the preservation of evidence. Pepmeyer agreed such a motion may be necessary, but asked that a hearing be held on the matter at a later date.

“We don’t know what evidence has been taken,” Harrell told Bordner. “We don’t want to be in a situation where we’re advised by the state that evidence was destroyed.”

The judge agreed with Harrell, saying this is “an emergency situation” and that the order will only be in effect for 30 days. The defense can later request a hearing to make the motion more permanent, he explained.

Sheley is also charged with the death of a 93-year-old Sterling man and an Arkansas couple whose bodies were found behind a gas station in Festus, Mo. He is a suspect in the deaths of four people — two adult men, a pregnant woman and a 2-year-old boy — in a Rock Falls apartment.

Michelle Anstett can be reached at