Guest Entry by katfish!
My friend katfish is attending the trials of Nicholas Sheley in Illinois and writing about her experiences on her blog.
Jury Seated in Battery Case; Testimony Begins Tuesday September 22nd
Today, Monday September 21, was the first day of the trial for Nicholas Sheley on the charges related to an alleged incident at the Knox County jail. Sheley was indicted on three counts of aggravated battery and one count each of aggravated assault and criminal damage to property stemming from an incident at the Knox County jail on April 17, 2009. The indictment accuses Sheley of attacking correctional officers with the metal legs he took off a chair in a maximum security day area and punching a sheriff’s Deputy in the face.
Sheley has been incarcerated in the Knox County jail, awaiting trial since July 2008 for the bludgeoning death of Ronald Randall of Galesburg. That trial is expected to be held in Summer 2010.
I was in the courtroom from 9am until after 6 pm today. The day started out with Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Mathers handling a few other cases before Sheley. Because it was such a long day with a lot of repetition, I will just touch on the highlights of the day.
Sheley appeared in court for the first time since his arrest in July 2008 without the orange jailhouse scrubs. Today he wore a blue button-down shirt and khaki pants with white socks and jail issue sandals. He wore his readers most of the day as well.. I noticed they give Sheley only the guts of the pen to write with, I guess I hadn’t noticed that before because his hands have been shackled.
Before jury selection began, Sheley’s public defender, Jim Harrell, argued a motion which would bar Sheley from testifying on his own behalf. Harrell said Sheley could not intellectually or knowingly waive his right to testify or agree to testify without incriminating himself in his capital murder case. Judge Mathers denied the motion and said it was up to Sheley whether he testifies or not.
I mentioned in my last Sheley entry, after Sheley had to be forcibly removed from the courtroom after an outburst, there was concern if Sheley would be shackled during the trial. The solution they came up with seems fair to all. Before potential jurors entered the courtroom for questioning, Sheley’s hand-cuffs were removed. His legs stayed bound with a belt-like device and both of the tables where the Defense and the State sat had table skirts to hide restraints and prevent jury bias.
Forty-seven jurors were questioned in groups of six about their familiarity with Sheley and their ability to be fair and impartial, particularly given what they may have heard.
Continue reading at katfish ponders....