MORRISON – After two and a half days of testimony, it took a Whiteside County jury all of two hours Friday to convict a Rock Falls woman of first-degree murder in the death of her self-described best friend.
Nichole Elsesser will be sentenced Oct. 28 for stabbing well-known area boxer Tracy Russell to death Dec. 15, 2019, at a home along the river in rural Rock Falls, where they got into an argument that turned physical.
Russell, 53, of Rock Falls, punched Elsesser several times in the back of the head, and the 5-foot-5, 135-pound Elsesser stabbed Russell four times with a steak knife, first in his back shoulder, then, as he swung at her, in his abdomen below his rib cage, in his right upper arm and his left thigh, investigators said.
The wound to his thigh proved to be fatal. Russell bled to death on the porch at the home in the 22000 block of Brooks Road as other people at the house that day, including his attacker, drove away. When they returned an hour later, Russell was dead.
Elsesser told investigators that she and Russell were “best friends,” and that she thought she had stabbed him with a pencil.
The trial began Monday with the jury selection of seven women and five men and ended at 1 p.m. Friday with closing arguments and the verdict.
Elsesser, 47, has been in the Whiteside County Jail on $1 million bond since her arrest; she will be held without bond until sentencing. She faces 30 to 60 years up to life in prison.
Except for a 2006 misdemeanor conviction in Whiteside County for resisting arrest, she appears to have no criminal history in Whiteside, Lee or Ogle counties.
She is represented by attorney Michael Jarrad of the Jarrad Law Group of Chicago. State’s Attorney Terry Costello is the prosecutor.
Russell was a former professional boxer and a member of the legendary Jon Russell boxing family of Rock Falls.
He was the father of Jamie Russell, then-coach of the Sauk Valley Community College women’s basketball team and a former youth boxing champion. Jon Russell, who died in 1988, was his brother.