Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

2004 Police Memo Alone Doesn't Clarify Whether Cheatham outside Topeka

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

2004 Police Memo Alone Doesn't Clarify Whether Cheatham outside Topeka

Article excerpt

A defense attorney representing Phillip D. Cheatham Jr. in a double murder case told a judge on Tuesday that a police memo to a prosecutor suggested Cheatham was outside of Topeka when the victims were killed.

But the memo must be compared to the courtroom testimony of Topeka police Detective Lou Randall to see that suggestion.

A close reading on Wednesday of the two-page memo written in January 2004 by Randall, lead investigator in the case, and sent to then-Shawnee County District Attorney Robert Hecht alone doesn't mention whether Cheatham was outside Topeka.

In the Jan. 28, 2004, memo, Randall reports the results of his trip to Chicago on Jan. 3, 2004, to collect information tied to Cheatham's arrest there.

Topeka detectives interviewed Chicago police officers who took Cheatham into custody during a car stop on Jan. 1, 2004, in which officers seized a loaded 9mm pistol from under the car seat he was sitting on and about 50 grams of suspected cocaine, the Randall memo said. Cheatham was booked into jail under the name of Jesus Vwega.

Randall also interviewed Treble Abram, who knew Cheatham and whose apartment Cheatham would stay in when visiting Chicago, the memo said.

Abram's cooperation with Topeka police was better than another man police interviewed, "but it was obvious that we were not going anywhere with Abram," Randall wrote to Hecht.

Randall's memo was different than his testimony during Cheatham's jury trial in 2005, Paul Oller, a Cheatham attorney, said Tuesday.

On the witness stand, Randall testified that Abram told him in Chicago that Cheatham was "on the run."

Oller repeated Randall's alleged use of the "on the run" phrase several times in court on Tuesday, a phrase indicating Cheatham was fleeing law enforcement officers.

The Randall memo never outright states where detectives either thought or had evidence to show Cheatham was on the day the Topeka shootings occurred.

Randall won't be available to testify during Cheatham's retrial. …

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