New Sentence Ordered In Death Penalty Case

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

Topeka (WIBW) - A man sentenced to death for a Topeka double murder will get another chance to plead for his life.

Shawnee County District Court Judge Mark Braun issued a decision Monday, ordering Phillip Cheatham be resentenced.

Both Cheatham and prosecutors agreed Cheatham received ineffective counsel during the sentencing phase of his trial. However, Cheatham argued his attorney, Dennis Hawver, was ineffective during the entire proceeding.

Hawver testified at a hearing in November that he was not qualified to represent a client in a death penalty case. He says Cheatham's conviction was evidence that he did not do an effective job.

Prosecutors disagreed, saying just because a client was convicted didn't mean counsel was not effective.

Braun ruled that representation was adequate during the trial and that Cheatham's convictions for the December 2003 killings of two women should stand.

Under Kansas law, only a jury may recommend a death sentence, so a new jury will be convened to decide wheather Cheatham should be sentenced to death.

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