Spree killer pleads guilty to killing couple in Missouri - KMOV.com

Spree killer pleads guilty to killing couple in Festus

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Nicholas Sheley pleaded guilty to 2 counts murder, got 2 life sentences in deal to avoid death penalty (Pool Photographer) Nicholas Sheley pleaded guilty to 2 counts murder, got 2 life sentences in deal to avoid death penalty (Pool Photographer)

HILLSBORO, Mo. (AP / KMOV.com) - A man who killed six people in Illinois was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for killing an Arkansas couple at a Festus, Missouri hotel.

Nicholas Sheley was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to killing Jill and Tom Estes of Sherwood, Arkansas. Police say the couple was attacked outside a hotel in Festus after leaving a graduation party in 2008. Investigators say they were random victims.

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Forrest Wegge said, "The closure that comes today with the defendant's admission in open court that he committed  these unspeakable  acts will hopefully enable Tom and Jill's family to put this legal process behind them so they can continue to heal."

But relatives of the Festus victims told News 4 they were disappointed Wegge dropped plans to seek the death penalty.

"We didn't have the option to pursue the death penalty. The powers that be made that decision for us and we obviously feel like we were cheated out of our opportunity for justice," said Patrick Steed, whose wife is the daughter of Jill and Tom Estes.

Wegge refused to answer questions about why he offered a plea deal instead of seeking the death penalty.

In court, Sheley kneeled and read a lengthy apology, taking responsibility for all eight murders. He called himself a "monster" and said he was "consumed with guilt and shame."

Victims' relatives rejected the apology and called Sheley "pure evil."

"I don't believe a word he said," said Dallas Branson, whose son was killed by Sheley in Rock Falls, Illinois, along with his son's fiance and her 2-year old son.

After a nationwide manhunt, Sheley was arrested in July 2008 in Granite City, Illinois.

He was already serving six life sentences in Illinois for killing six people in that state.

Prosecutors say the string of drug and alcohol-induced killings began June 26, 2008, in Sheley's hometown of Sterling, Illinois.
 

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