Archive for Saturday, November 4, 1995

COUNSEL QUESTIONED IN ORR APPEAL

November 4, 1995

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A three-hour hearing on Friday afternoon with no outcome marked the latest chapter in proceedings that began in April claiming convicted murderer Abraham Orr received inadequate representation.

Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy on Friday allowed witnesses and evidence to be heard in a motion claiming Orr had inadequate representation in his 1994 Douglas County murder trial.

Richard Ney, a federal public defender called by the defense, testified that Orr's attorney, Randy McGrath, performed below a "reasonable" level of adequate representation because he failed to obtain complete medical and school records on Orr.

Such records could have shown that Orr had social and medical problems, appellate defense attorney Ed Collister said.

One of Collister's witnesses, Topeka psychologist Robert Churman, said post-traumatic stress disorder kept Orr from having an "intent" when he allegedly shot and killed Edward D. Lees in September 1993 during a botched carjacking.

Another witness, Stephen Peterson, a Topeka psychiatrist who examined Orr at McGrath's request before the murder trial, testified that McGrath didn't provide him with all of Orr's records before the trial.

But Peterson said he still would not have found Orr unfit for trial even if he would have seen all the records at the time.

Orr, 20, is serving a life sentence and 32 months for felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery.

Douglas County District Judge Jack Murphy allowed the testimony despite repeated objections from Assistant Douglas County Dist. Atty. Shelley Diehl. It was the second hearing in three months on the matter.

"If one were to dig deep enough and long enough, one would find a worm," Diehl said.

Collister submitted some documents that prosecutors had not seen on Friday.

Diehl has until Nov. 8 to decide if she wants to schedule a hearing for rebuttal on the documents.

Attorneys on both sides have until the same date to file additional briefs on the matter. A ruling would come after Nov. 8, unless an extension or another hearing is scheduled.

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