The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

November 3, 2012

Sheley letter said he would plead guilty to murder

MORRISON, Ill. — A man accused of killing eight people in Illinois and Missouri said in a letter that he intended to plead guilty to charges he killed an elderly Illinois farmer, a witness testified in court Friday.

Nicholas Sheley is charged with murder in the 2008 slaying of 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling. Initially, Sheley's brother, Joshua, was accused of being an accessory and charged with concealing a homicidal death and obstructing justice.

Joshua Sheley's former attorney, Janet Buttron, testified Friday that Nicholas Sheley wrote to her in 2009 to say that his brother was not involved in any way and that he intended to plead guilty.

"It's the right thing to do because Joshua Sheley is absolutely not guilty of the crimes that he is charged with," says the letter, which was displayed for the jury. "I fully intend on pleading guilty to my charges because I know exactly what has taken place and because of the fact that I do indeed know what I've done."

He insisted in the letter that he was not writing to cover up for his brother. Joshua Sheley was acquitted in December 2009.

Nicholas Sheley's lawyer argues that his client didn't mean what he wrote and that the letter was simply intended to get his brother out of trouble, The (Sterling) Daily Gazette reported ( Nicholas Sheley has pleaded not guilty.

Buttron was the last of 12 witnesses to testify Friday on the fifth day of Sheley's trial.

It is the second murder trial for Sheley, who has already been sentenced to life in prison for the bludgeoning death of a Galesburg man.

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