from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit,
Whiteside County, Illinois, Circuit No. 08-CF-402 Honorable
Jeffrey W. O'Connor, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge specially concurred,
1 Defendant, Nicholas T. Sheley, appeals his conviction of
four counts of first degree murder. Specifically, defendant
contends that the circuit court erred in denying his motion
for a mistrial because reversible error occurred when the
judge fell asleep during the jury trial. We affirm.
3 The State charged defendant with 15 counts of first degree
murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2008)) for causing
the deaths of Dayan Blake, Brock Branson, Kilynna Blake, and
Kenneth Ulve. With regard to the murder of Dayan, the
indictment alleged that Dayan was under 12 years old and his
death resulted from exceptionally brutal or heinous behavior
indicative of wanton cruelty as set forth in section
9-1(b)(7) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/9-1(b)(7)
4 A jury trial was held. The evidence at trial showed that
the four victims were last seen alive in their apartment in
Rock Falls, Illinois, on the evening of June 28, 2008. Two
days later, the bodies of the victims were found in their
apartment. The victims had been bludgeoned to death.
5 The State also presented evidence that on the morning of
June 28-prior to the murders of the victims in the instant
case-defendant stole a truck, a work shirt, and a hat from
Illinois Oil Products in Rock Island, Illinois. Defendant
drove the truck to Galesburg, where he murdered Ronald
Randall and then stole Randall's truck. The State
presented a videotaped deposition of Pamela Sebben. Sebben
was a gas station clerk who sold cigarettes to defendant on
June 28 in Galesburg.
6 When the police searched the victims' apartment,
officers found the work shirt that defendant stole from
Illinois Oil Products. The shirt contained DNA consistent
with that of defendant and was stained with Randall's
blood. The officers also found pair of khaki shorts in the
apartment. Testing revealed that the inside of the waistband
of the shorts contained defendant's DNA. The shorts were
stained with Ulve's and Randall's blood.
Additionally, officers found two cigarette butts that
contained defendant's DNA.
7 Two shirts and a pair of shorts belonging to Branson were
missing from the apartment. A police officer found those
items in a dumpster in Festus, Missouri. The clothing
contained DNA consistent with that of defendant. One of the
shirts contained several bloodstains. Testing showed that the
bloodstains contained the DNA of Ulve, Branson, and Kilynna.
The State also introduced photographs of defendant in St.
Louis, Missouri, on June 29. In those photographs, defendant
was wearing one of Branson's missing shirts.
8 Officer Brad Cirimotich testified regarding security camera
footage purportedly showing defendant in Galesburg on June
28. Cirimotich testified regarding the contents of the
security camera footage while the videotapes were being
played. After the videos ended, the following exchange
"MR. ELWARDS [sic] [Assistant Attorney
General]: Judge, we can have the lights back up.
MR. KARLIN [defense counsel]: Judge?
(Counsel Karlin approached the bench.)
MR. KARLIN: Judge O'Connor?
(Counsel Elward approached the bench.)
MR. ELWARD: Judge, could we get the lights back on?
THE COURT: Hmm.
MR. ELWARD: We need the lights back on.
(The Court complies.)
MR. ELWARD: Thank you.
Judge, I've got some chain exhibits that I need to do
with Detective Cirimotich, perhaps this might be a good time
for us to break for ...