TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas man whose capital murder conviction was overturned because of an ineffective attorney wants to change his name ahead of his retrial for the deaths of two women more than a decade ago.
Phillip Delbert Cheatham Jr., 41, is charged with capital murder and is scheduled to go to trial early next year. He was convicted by a jury of that charge in 2005 and sentenced to death, but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the conviction last year and ordered a new trial.
The Topeka Capital-Journal (http://bit.ly/1vG0qOF ) reported that Cheatham is seeking to change his name to “King Phillip Amman Reu-El,” according to documents he filed with the court.
The Shawnee County District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Cheatham in the slayings, won’t oppose the requested name change.
“The name he goes by doesn’t matter to us,” chief deputy district attorney Jacqie Spradling said this week. Spradling is the prosecutor in the retrial of Cheatham.
The name change must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper in the county where the name-change petition is filed, according to Kansas statute.
Cheatham’s name change was published as a classified ad in The Capital-Journal on Nov. 5.
“The changing of my name to King Phillip Amman Reu-El represents the subjection of my will, the submitting of my will, the tuning of my will to the will of the King of Kings who dwells in the kingdom which is not far away,” Cheatham wrote in court documents.
Cheatham is accused of fatally shooting Annette Roberson, 38, and Gloria A. Jones, 42, at a Topeka home on Dec. 13, 2003. He also is facing two alternative counts of premeditated first-degree murder of Roberson and Jones; attempted first-degree murder of Annetta D. Thomas; aggravated battery of Thomas; and criminal possession of a firearm.
Thomas survived 19 bullet wounds to identify Cheatham as one of two shooters in the deaths of Jones and Roberson.
The Supreme Court ruled Cheatham didn’t get a fair trial because his attorney, Dennis Hawver of Ozawkie, spent only 200 hours preparing for the case, which the court called “appallingly low for a death penalty defense and even more stunning when all but 60 of those hours, as Hawver testified, were spent in trial.”
Cheatham new defense attorneys have filed a number of motions that seek to have the retrial dismissed. His lawyers also have challenged the death penalty and other aspects of the case.
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