AP: U.S. Supreme Court asked to hear Kansas murder case

2/9/2013

TOPEKA (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to review a Kansas Supreme Court decision overturning the capital murder convictions of a Topeka man in the killing of two women in 2003, the Shawnee County District Attorney said in a court filing.

TOPEKA (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to review a Kansas Supreme Court decision overturning the capital murder convictions of a Topeka man in the killing of two women in 2003, the Shawnee County District Attorney said in a court filing.

Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor filed a motion late Thursday saying he will appeal the ruling overturning the convictions of Phillip D. Cheatham, who was sentenced to death in 2005.

In the three-page filing with the clerk of the Kansas appellate courts, Taylor also asked the state Supreme Court to delay issuing a mandate that would allow Cheatham's second trial to start in Shawnee County District Court, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The district attorney's office has until April 25 to file the petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepts only a few cases for appeal.

Cheatham, 40, was convicted in Shawnee County of killing Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones and wounding a third victim, Annetta Thomas, at a Topeka home in December 2003.

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in January that Cheatham didn't get a fair trial because his attorney, Dennis Hawver of Ozawkie, spent only 200 hours preparing for the case, which the court called "appallingly low for a death penalty defense and even more stunning when all but 60 of those hours, as Hawver testified, were spent in trial."

The court also noted that Hawver told the jury that Cheatham had a prior voluntary manslaughter conviction and referred repeatedly to his client as a "professional drug dealer" and "shooter of people."

Cheatham's mother told the Capital-Journal she wasn't surprised Taylor intended to appeal the state court's ruling but it wouldn't change the evidence that her son didn't get a fair trial.

"Clearly," Perry-Grigsby said, "Mr. Hawver wasn't prepared to defend a capital murder case, therefore putting Phillip's case/life in extreme jeopardy."

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