High Court Orders New Trial in Greenwood Sheriff's Slaying

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TOPEKA -- The 2005 slaying of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels is heading back to the courtroom. The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday, unanimously overturned the death sentence and ordered a new trial for Scott Cheever.

In reviewing the case against Cheever, the high court ordered the new trial, agreeing with arguments that the convicted gunman's constitutional rights were violated after a psychiatrict testified about Cheever's psychological reports, without having Cheever's patient consent to talk about those records on the witness stand.

Cheever's conviction in the January 2005 case were upheld on the charges he was manufacturing methamphetamines, and had criminal possession of a handgun. Sheriff Samuels was shot on the front porch of Cheever's home while serving a search warrant to track down the meth operation.

Donna Schneweis of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty, says no mistakes can be made when capitol punishment is handed down as a sentence.

"The death of Sheriff Matthew Samuels was a tragic loss for his family, Greenwood County and the Kansas law enforcement community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many Kansans whose lives are impacted by this decision today.

“The Kansas Supreme Court has now overturned every death sentence in the four cases that have made it to this stage of the appeals process,” said Donna Schneweis, the Board Chair of the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

"This action by the court marks the fourth death sentence to be overturned in the mandatory appeals process due to errors made during the trials," she said after the decision.

“In a death penalty trial, even a small mistake can mean the difference between life and death,” said Schneweis. “This case is another example of just how flawed the Kansas death penalty is. We can’t eliminate the possibility of error. It’s time for Kansas to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole.”