News Releases

U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Kansas’ appeal in death penalty case

TOPEKA – (December 11, 2013) –The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously vacated a Kansas state court decision that had overturned the conviction and death sentence of Scott Cheever, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said.

Cheever was convicted of capital murder for the January 2005 killing of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. The Kansas Supreme Court found that that state violated Cheever’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and overturned the conviction. The U.S. Supreme Court today held there was no Fifth Amendment violation.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the court’s unanimous opinion, “We hold that where a defense expert who has examined the defendant testifies that the defendant lacked the requisite mental state to commit a crime, the prosecution may offer evidence from a court-ordered psychological examination for the limited purpose of rebutting the defendant’s evidence.”

Attorney General Schmidt argued the case before the high court in October.

Cheever was convicted and sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. In August 2012, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction, citing constitutional violations, and ordered a new trial. Today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision reversed the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision, and remanded the case to the Kansas Supreme Court for further proceedings.