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Archive for Sunday, March 20, 2005

Suspect pleads not guilty in sheriff’s death

March 20, 2005

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— A man accused of killing Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels in January pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to nine charges, including two counts of capital murder.

Scott Cheever, 23, waived his right to a detention hearing, and Judge Karen Humphreys ruled that he would remain in custody without bond while awaiting trial.

Authorities said Samuels, 42, was shot Jan. 19 near Virgil in northeast Greenwood County as he was serving a search warrant at a home and an arrest warrant for Cheever, who was wanted on burglary and theft charges and for violating parole.

Three people at the home were taken into custody immediately after the shooting, but Cheever barricaded himself inside, sparking a daylong standoff during which officers of the KBI, the Kansas Highway Patrol and other agencies tried to negotiate his surrender.

Cheever is facing charges of murder of a witness in a drug trafficking crime; murder while using a firearm in a drug trafficking crime; two counts of using and discharging a firearm in a drug trafficking crime; one count of conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine; one count of attempting to manufacture methamphetamine; one count of establishing an operation to manufacture methamphetamine; and two counts of illegally possessing a firearm after being convicted of a felony.

He initially was charged in Greenwood County District Court, but Atty. Gen. Phill Kline asked federal authorities to take the case so they could pursue the death penalty against Cheever.

Kansas' death penalty law was ruled unconstitutional in December by the Kansas Supreme Court, but that ruling was stayed so Kline could appeal it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Prosecutors said it would be up to the U.S. Justice Department to decide whether they can seek the death penalty if Cheever is convicted.

Kansas authorities have used Samuels' slaying as an example of why the state needs to strengthen its laws against manufacturing methamphetamine. Investigators say a working meth lab was found in the home where Samuels was killed.

In the days before Samuels was slain, investigators say a Greenwood County couple allowed Cheever and another man to make meth in their home. Five others are facing charges stemming from the case, mainly related to the manufacture of meth.

While Cheever and the other man were making the drug upstairs, authorities said, someone called the house to warn that law enforcement officers had been tipped off and were on their way.

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