- Associated Press - Thursday, September 11, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A man already serving life sentences in Illinois for six killings in 2008 will face trial in Missouri on charges that he killed an Arkansas couple that same summer, though a prosecutor said those languishing proceedings likely won’t come anytime soon.

Steven Jerrell, the chief assistant prosecutor in Jefferson County south of St. Louis, said Wednesday that because Nicholas Sheley is appealing many of his convictions and life terms, evidence Missouri authorities have supplied to prosecutors in those cases has yet to be returned.

“As soon as we have all of our evidence and can proceed, we will extradite Mr. Sheley to Jefferson County” to face murder charges linked to the killings of Jill and Tom Estes, both 54, of Sherwood, Arkansas, Jerrell said.

Though the Missouri killings could make Sheley eligible for the death penalty - Illinois abolished capital punishment in recent years - Jerrell said he doesn’t know if he will pursue that punishment.

“It’s a little too early for that yet,” he said.

Prosecutors say that over an alcohol- and drug-fueled few days in June 2008, Sheley carried out a series of killings stretching from his Illinois hometown of Sterling to the St. Louis-area community of Festus hundreds of miles away.

Sheley was sentenced last month to life sentences in the hammer bludgeonings of four of his six Illinois victims - their ages ranging from 2 to 29 years old - whose bodies were found in an apartment in northwestern Illinois’ Rock Falls, about two miles from Sterling.

Festus’s police chief, Tim Lewis, says it appears the Esteses were attacked outside a hotel after leaving a graduation party in Festus. Police say Sheley loaded their bodies into a pickup truck belonging to another of his victims and dumped the bodies near a gas station a short distance away.

“You had droplets of blood we literally followed for a mile and a half on foot,” Lewis said.

Tom Estes’ sister, 64-year-old Brenda Whittley of Gainesville, Missouri, said Thursday that she was ambivalent about having to wait years to see Sheley prosecuted in the killings of her brother and sister-in-law, and that she didn’t care if he was sentenced to death.

“It’s been a while, and it doesn’t change anything,” she told The Associated Press by telephone. “As long as he’s in jail and caught, I’m glad for that. It’s not like he’s out running around so he can do harm to anyone else. Having him in jail is still better than not.”

Online court records do not show whether Sheley has an attorney in the Missouri case.

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