- Associated Press - Thursday, May 22, 2014

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (AP) - A juror hearing testimony in the trial of a man charged with killing four people in a Rock Falls apartment in 2008 was dismissed Thursday after he was overheard saying the defense didn’t have a case.

The trial of Nicholas Sheley was delayed two hours as trial Judge Jeffrey O’Connor, prosecutors and a defense attorney questioned the juror who made the comment and the woman who heard him say it after the jury was excused Wednesday afternoon.

When he was brought in for questioning, the juror told O’Connor he sometimes thinks out loud and might have said something to the effect of “the defense doesn’t have a case.”

Under questioning from Assistant Attorney General Bill Elward, the man said he could keep his “mind open” and his “mouth shut.” However, defense attorney Jeremy Karlin called for a mistrial or dismissal of the juror.

O’Connor dismissed the juror and placed an alternate on the jury.

Sheley has pleaded not guilty to killing 29-year-old Brock Branson, 29; 20-year-old Kilynna Blake, 20; her son, Dayan, 2; and Kenneth Ulve, 25.

Testimony in the fourth day of Sheley’s trial dealt with the Galesburg slaying of Ronald Randall, 65, for which Sheley was convicted in September 2011.

Prosecutors contend some evidence from the Galesburg murder, including a shirt, also links Sheley to the Rock Falls killings. Investigators found a blue work shirt with the initials “A.J.” in a bedroom in the Rock Falls apartment. Witnesses said it was an item of clothing Sheley stole from an Illinois Oil Co. employee.

Sheley is serving life sentences for the slayings of Randall and Russell Reed,93, of Sterling. He is awaiting trial in the deaths of Arkansas couple Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, who were killed on June 29, 2008, in a hotel parking lot in Festus, Missouri.

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