Sheley's wife testifies about bloody pickup


Posted on September 14, 2011 at 6:06 PM

GALESBURG, Ill. (AP) -- The wife of an Illinois man charged with killing eight people during a two-state crime spree testified Wednesday that he picked her up on the night of the first of those deaths in a pickup whose cab was full of blood.

Holly Sheley testified in the trial of her husband, Nicholas Sheley, in that first killing, the bludgeoning of 65-year-old Ronald Randall of Galesburg. She told the jury that she sat down in the pickup the night of June 28, 2008, in something wet. When they drove under a street light, she noticed blood covered the seat of the truck, which prosecutors say was Randall's, stolen by Nicholas Sheley

"I felt scared, confused. I didn't know what was going on," said Holly Sheley, who teared up when shown a photo of the inside of Randall's pickup. Holly Shelley, 32, has been given immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.

Nicholas Sheley, who is also 32 and from Sterling, was arrested outside a Granite City bar after someone inside the business recognized him from seeing his picture on television.

Sheley has pleaded not guilty in all eight of those June 2008 homicides.

Those killed also include 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 were traveling for a graduation.

Sheley will be tried in the other cases later, including the Missouri killings, for which he could face the death penalty if convicted.

Nicholas Sheley showed up unexpectedly on the night of June 29, 2008, at a friend's home in Sterling, Holly Sheley said. She hadn't seen him for several days after an argument.

The two drove to a hotel in nearby Rock Falls and had sex in an area behind the building before he drove her to his sister's home, where Holly Sheley borrowed pants to change out of the bloody jeans she'd worn, she testified.

Nicholas Sheley and his wife have known each other since 2000. They married in May 2008. They have two young children.

Holly Sheley didn't talk to police until more than a year after his arrest but has said in interviews that she believes she should receive a reward because she persuaded him to give up before his arrest.

"They wouldn't have caught him without my help," Holly Sheley testified Wednesday.

Under cross-examination, she acknowledged her own criminal record, which includes several felony convictions. She said she was only recently released from prison for a parole violation.

Earlier Wednesday, Galesburg police investigator Brad Cirimotich testified that a Galesburg gas station employee called police the night Randall was beaten to death to report another man with blood on his face had been in the station's store.

But the investigator said under cross examination that two other people in the store at the time could not pick Sheley out of a police lineup.