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Archive for Thursday, August 3, 1995

CONVICTED KILLER QUESTIONS COUNSEL

August 3, 1995

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Convicted killer Abraham Orr claims he received ineffective legal representation during his March 1994 trial.

A Topeka man who was convicted of killing a Lawrence man in September 1993 during an attempted carjacking was returned Wednesday night to the Douglas County Jail.

Abraham M. Orr, 19, was returned to Douglas County under court order, Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said this morning. He said deputies picked Orr up in Topeka after he was transferred from the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Orr is to appear in court Tuesday for a hearing on his allegation that he received ineffective assistance from Randy McGrath, the attorney who represented him during his March 1994 trial.

The jury convicted Orr of first-degree murder and attempted aggravated robbery in the shooting death of Edward D. Lees, 29. Orr later was sentenced to life in prison for the murder and 32 months for attempted aggravated robbery. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively.

Lees was shot to death Sept. 18, 1993, as he sat in an Isuzu Trooper at the entrance to Riverfront Park.

Orr testified that he wanted to steal the vehicle so he and his friends could have a ride back to Topeka. Their car had broken down on the Kansas Turnpike east of Lawrence.

Orr has appealed his conviction to the Kansas Supreme Court. The high court remanded the case to Douglas County temporarily so the local court could hold a hearing and render judgment on the ineffective assistance of counsel issue. Once that judgment is entered, the case will be returned to the high court for a ruling on the appeal.

Anderson said correctional officers are taking all necessary precautions to prevent Orr from making another jail-break attempt.

In February 1994 Orr's wife, Sarah N. Orr, Topeka, smuggled a loaded gun into the jail during a visit with her husband. The gun discharged in Sarah Orr's struggle with a correction's officer, causing minor injuries to the officer.

Sarah Orr was later convicted of illegally possessing a firearm in a county building, but acquitted on charges of aiding an escape and attempted aggravated kidnapping.

Abraham Orr was never prosecuted in connection with the escape attempt.

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