Sheley pleads not guilty to Galesburg murder

Susan Kaufman

A man facing 17 charges in connection with the murder of a Galesburg man pleaded not guilty in Knox County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Public Defender Jim Harrell entered the plea on behalf of Nicholas T. Sheley, 28, Sterling, and also demanded a jury trial.

Sheley, wearing glasses, read along as charges and possible punishments of the 17-count bill of indictment were read by Ninth Circuit Judge James Stewart.

The indictment against Nicholas T. Sheley includes 10 counts of first-degree murder — three that state victim Ronald Randall was more than 60 years old and allege his death was the result of exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty. If Sheley is convicted of first-degree murder and aggravating factors are found, he could be sentenced to death.

The indictments supersede the previous charges against Sheley, who is suspected of bludgeoning to death eight people in June.

Also included in the indictment are two counts of aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated vehicular hijacking and one count armed robbery — all Class X felonies punishable by six to 30 years in prison; one count of robbery, a Class 1 felony; and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle, a Class 2 felony.

Sheley sat emotionless and occasionally whispered to his attorney during the proceedings. As Sheley was led out of the second floor courtroom by court security, a woman who claimed to be Sheley’s ex-wife Monica Rodriguez shouted, “Anything you want to say to your kids?” The woman was asked to leave the courthouse and sped off in her car without speaking to the media.

A motion to make a temporary order to preserve evidence was extended.

Sheley remains held in the Knox County jail on a $10 million bond, meaning Sheley would need $1 million to get out of jail.

The case is continued to 9 a.m. Oct. 6.

Susan Kaufman can be reached