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Attorneys argue over use of psychological exam in Cheever case

TOPEKA -- A lawyer for Scott Cheever said prosecutors violated his constitutional rights by providing privileged psychological testimony at trial while seeking his death sentence.

The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments this morning in Cheever's case for the 2005 murder of Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels.

The most contentious and most questioned issue concerned the use by prosecutors of the testimony of a psychologist who had interviewed Cheever before trial.

That court-ordered interview took place when Cheever was charged in federal court. In a unique switch, the case was moved back to state court, where he was tried, convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death by a jury in Eureka.

Public defender Debra Wilson said Cheever didn't give permission to use the psychological records in his state trial, which usually fall under a client-provider privilege.

Prosecutors put on the testimony in response to Cheever's defense that he was so high on meth he didn't know what he was doing.

But Wilson said the doctor went beyond that when he offered testimony that Cheever had anti-social personality disorder. That could be considered testimony on a defendant's character, which may be improper, some of the justices said.

Kristafer Ailslieger, arguing for the state, contended that once Cheever waived his right in the federal case, he opened the report for use in the state trial. Aislinger also said that the therapist didn't provide information to the jury that they didn't have through other testimony, including Cheever's.

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