AG Derek Schmidt: U.S. Supreme Court allows Scott Cheevers conviction, death sentence to stand

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Release Date: Dec 11, 2017

TOPEKA – (December 11, 2017) – The U.S. Supreme Court today declined to review for a second time the case of Scott Cheever leaving his capital murder conviction and death sentence intact, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

The high court’s denial means Cheever’s conviction and death sentence, which previously were affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court, will stand on direct appeal. The case will next be returned to the Kansas courts for further proceedings under the Kansas death penalty statute. Although the U.S. Supreme Court’s action marks the end of Cheever’s direct appeals, under both Kansas and federal law Cheever has remaining options to seek further judicial review through collateral proceedings.

Cheever was convicted of capital murder for the January 2005 killing of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. The Kansas Supreme Court had previously overturned the conviction in 2012, citing a constitutional violation and ordered a new trial. Schmidt appealed that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2013 unanimously overturned the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, and remanded the case to the Kansas Supreme Court for further proceedings. In July 2016, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Cheever’s conviction and sentence in a 6-1 ruling.

This is the fourth death penalty case to exhaust direct appeals since the Kansas Legislature reinstated the death penalty in 1994. The others are State v. Sidney Gleason, State v. Gary Kleypas and State v. John Robinson.

Cheever is one of 10 people under sentence of death in Kansas. The other death penalty cases that remain pending at various stages of direct appeals before the Kansas Supreme Court are State v. Jonathan Carr (Sedgwick County); State v. Reginald Carr (Sedgwick County); State v. Justin Thurber (Cowley County); State v. Craig Kahler (Osage County); State v. Frazier Glenn Miller (Johnson County); and State v. Kyle Flack (Franklin County).

In an eleventh case, State v. Doug Belt (Sedgwick County), the defendant died in prison, but the Kansas Supreme Court in October 2016 declined to disturb the capital murder conviction and death sentence.

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