Topeka inmate disputes lawyer’s claims on trial strategy

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas inmate whose capital murder conviction and death sentence were overturned last year is refuting his attorney’s claims that the prisoner devised the trial strategy that led to his 2005 conviction.

The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1i6xJyx ) reports 41-year-old Phillip Cheatham says attorney Dennis Hawver coerced him into approving a strategy that included telling jurors of his drug-dealing past. Hawver filed a 42-page brief last month defending himself after the Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys recommended he be disbarred or suspended for the way he handled Cheatham’s case.

Cheatham was sentenced to death for killing two women and trying to kill a third in 2003. Hawver says Cheatham’s strategy was to tell jurors if he killed the two women he wouldn’t have left the third one alive to identify him.

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