Public defender appointed for suspect in 8 slayings

Wednesday, July 9, 2008 | 3:23 p.m. CDT; updated 1:35 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

GALESBURG, Ill. — A judge in Knox County has appointed a public defender for an Illinois man suspected in a crime spree that left eight people dead in Illinois and Missouri.

Nicholas Sheley appeared before Judge Steven Bordner in Galesburg, where he’s being held on first-degree murder and other charges in the death of Ronald Randall.

Bordner told Sheley that those charges could potentially carry the death penalty.

Sheley said he’s trying to find a private attorney. But the judge said he was appointing Knox County public defender Jim Harrell until then. Bordner also reminded Sheley that his attorney will have to be qualified to handle death penalty cases.

Sheley also is charged in the death of 93-year-old Russell Reed of Sterling. And authorities have named Sheley a suspect in the deaths of four people in Rock Falls and a married couple in Festus, Mo.

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