Scott Cheever was sentenced to death by the State of Kansas for the murder of Sheriff Matthew Samuels. According to court documents Sheriff Matthew Samuels was heading to a residence to serve an arrest warrant on Scott Cheever and when the Officer arrived he was shot and killed. Scott Cheever was arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
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The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday upheld the capital murder conviction and death sentence of Scott Cheever, who was convicted of gunning down Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels during a drug raid in 2005.
In a 52-page opinion penned by Justice Eric Rosen, the state’s high court rejected Cheever’s claims that errors occurred during the guilty-phase of his trial.
The court in the ruling also identified four errors — including improper comments made and the district court judge’s instructions to jurors — that occurred during the sentencing phase of Cheever’s trial. But the court said none, considered alone or collectively, reached the threshold required to throw out his death sentence.
“In light of the record as a whole, the total effect of these errors had very little, if any, likelihood of changing the jury’s ultimate conclusion that death was the appropriate sentence,” Rosen wrote.
Cheever claimed jurors who decided his fate weren’t told mitigating factors — which seek leniency in sentencing — presented in the penalty phase of a trial needn’t be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be used in the weighing process. In death penalty cases, a jury hears evidence both in support of execution and against it, and then decides which carries greater weight.
He also claimed a prosecutor unfairly harmed his chances at life imprisonment when he told jurors they should reject requests for leniency on the basis of Cheever’s methamphetamine use.
The court expressed disapproval at the remark in Friday’s ruling, but said that the error was harmless.
The decision to uphold Cheever’s death sentence was 6-1.