Justice has been slow in coming for Nicholas T. Sheley. Very slow.
Thursday’s guilty verdict in four Rock Falls killings brings to six the number of murder convictions, all from a killing spree nearly 6 years ago, against the former Sterling man, now 34.
Next, after his sentencing on Aug. 11, Sheley will stand trial in Missouri for the killings of an Arkansas couple. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. (Illinois banned executions in 2011.)
The crimes all happened in late June 2008. It was a frightening time.
On Thursday, a Rock Island County jury convicted Sheley in the brutal and heinous beating deaths (he used a hammer) of Brock Branson, 29, his girlfriend, Kilynna Blake, 20, her 2-year-old son, Dayan, and Kenneth Ulve, 25, of Rock Falls.
Sheley was previously convicted, in separate trials, of killing Russell Reed, 93, of Sterling, and Ronald Randall, 65, of Galesburg.
Missouri prosecutors will next try Sheley for the deaths of an Arkansas couple, Tom and Jill Estes, in Festus, Missouri.
Whatever fueled the spree killings (prosecutors say drugs, alcohol and revenge were factors), their terrible, gruesome nature, as detailed in the testimony, continues to shock, sadden, and anger the community.
As we wrote in 2008, let the victims and their families be remembered.
Let the community be vigilant against evil.
And now, with four more convictions, let the healing begin anew.