Jury selection begins in third murder trial of Nicholas Sheley

May 13, 2014

Under heavy security in Rock Island, jury selection began this week for the third murder trial of Nicholas Sheley. The 34-year-old from Sterling is currently serving two life sentences for murder. And he's now standing trial on charges that six years ago, he killed four people in Whiteside County.

The bodies of 29-year-old Brock Branson, his fiancee, 20-year-old, Kilynna Blake, her two-year-old son, and a 25-year-old friend were found in their Rock Falls apartment two days after their deaths.

Nearly 40 prospective jurors were on hand early Monday morning from a list of hundreds of residents who received summonses in the mail last month. The trial was moved from Whiteside County to Rock Island County on a change of venue request due to publicity. 

Last Friday, Judge Jeffrey O'Connor held a brief orientation for the jurors. And Monday, he presided over a courtroom where Sheley and his attorney, Jeremy Karlin, sat at the defense table, with the Whiteside County State's Attorney and three more lawyers at the other table. In the back of the room, three reporters blogged. 

Sheley has already been convicted of killing 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling, and 65-year-old Ronald Randall of Galesburg. 

Reporters got a glimpse into the prosecution case when Illinois Assistant Attorney General, Bill Elward, said the state intends to link evidence from the Galesburg murder to the Rock Falls case. He said clothing found in Branson and Blake's apartment is connected to the Randall case in Knox County.

As for security, a total of six Illinois Corrections Department officers and armed county deputies were present in the courtroom. 

Sheley's trial is expected to last about two weeks. He's also accused of murdering two people in Missouri, where he'll be tried next and could face the death penalty.