EUREKA Jury selection was scheduled to begin today in the trial of a 26-year-old man accused of gunning down the Greenwood County sheriff.
Scott Cheever is charged with capital murder in the January 2005 shooting death of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels. Authorities say Samuels was killed at a rural home with a working methamphetamine lab as he tried to serve Cheever with an arrest warrant.
Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty if Cheever is convicted of capital murder. Cheever is also charged with four counts of attempted capital murder and one count each of manufacturing methamphetamine and criminal possession of a firearm.
Cheever's lawyers have said Cheever will not contest that he shot Samuels to death, but will contend that he was so high on methamphetamine he couldn't consider premeditation - a necessary element of capital murder.
Jury selection at the Greenwood County Courthouse in Eureka was expected to last about a week, with lawyers working their way through a pool of about 300 potential jurors.
The case will be prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney, with assistance of two lawyers from the U.S. Attorney's Office, Lanny Welch and David Lind. Cheever will be represented by Ron Evans and Tim Frieden of the Kansas Death Penalty Defense Unit.
Butler County District Court Judge Mike Ward is traveling from El Dorado to hear the case because all the Greenwood County judges knew Samuels.
The "voluntary intoxication" defense helped save the life of Greg Moore in a similar case: the April 2005 shooting death of Harvey County sheriff's Deputy Kurt Ford in Newton.
After the Moore case moved to Sedgwick County on a change of venue, a jury convicted Moore of capital murder. But jurors could not unanimously agree on the death penalty. Moore is serving a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole.