TheKansas Supreme Court ruling in Kansas v. Cheatham is available in Adobe .pdf format.
The Republic posts the AP filing, "Kansas Supreme Court orders new trial for man in 2003 murders, cites ineffective legal counsel." It's written by John Milburn.
A Topeka man convicted of two 2003 murders deserves a new trial in part because his previous attorney provided ineffective representation, the Kansas Supreme Court ordered Friday.
Phillip D. Cheatham was convicted in Shawnee County in 2005 of killing Annette Roberson and Gloria Jones and wounding a third victim, Annetta Thomas, at a Topeka home.
Justice Dan Biles wrote in Friday's opinion that Cheatham was denied a fair trial in part because his attorney at the time, Dennis Hawver of Ozawkie, did not put enough effort into preparing for the case. The justices said the 200 hours Hawver spent working on Cheatham's defense was "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."
"Specifically, we hold that counsel's performance was deficient in several respects, which were most seriously problematic when he volunteered to 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.' This denied Cheatham his right to a fair trial," Biles wrote.
Biles wrote that the court found it "distressing" that Hawver didn't familiarize himself with the rigors of a death penalty defense and seek assistance or necessary resources to defend his client.
"It flies in the face of common sense that he so effortlessly dismissed the offer from the BIDS executive director to publically provide assistance," Biles wrote.
Cheatham's case is the second death penalty sentence to be reversed by the Kansas Supreme Court in the past year.
Related posts are in the ineffective assistance of counsel category index.