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Hearing date set in 2008 Gove murder case





A December trial date has been set in Gove County in connection with an ineffective-counsel claim by a man already convicted of first-degree murder.

The two-day hearing, beginning Dec. 9, is tentative, because there's still a chance David A. Stevenson's attorney might be allowed to withdraw from the case.

That issue was broached at a short hearing Friday morning before District Judge Ed Bouker, who presided over Stevenson's murder trial in Trego County.

The trial was moved to WaKeeney because the courtroom in Gove County is too small.

Stevenson was convicted Oct. 13, 2009, in connection with the May 13, 2008, murder of his 85-year-old father, Walter A. Stevenson.

The Gove County jury found David Stevenson guilty of striking his father several times with a hammer and then placing his body under the bed of a grain truck in a shop on his Gove County farm. Stevenson, however, argued the death was accidental because he was in Scott City at the time, arriving home to find his father's body trapped under the truck.

Stevenson appealed his conviction to the Kansas Supreme Court, but that appeal was denied last year.

Since then, he's filed a pair of motions, one of which seeks to have DNA testing on the coveralls his father was wearing at the time of his death.

That DNA testing request, however, has been put on hold pending a hearing on Stevenson's claim of ineffective counsel during his trial.

Stevenson made the jail-house request for a hearing on the issue, claiming a number of problems during the course of the trial. Hays attorney Paul Oller represented Stevenson during the trial.

At Friday's hearing, with two attorneys from the Kansas Attorney General's office appearing via telephone, Bouker nearly agreed to let defense attorney Greg Schwartz withdraw from the case.

It's unclear why Schwartz asked to withdraw and Stevenson asked for a new attorney.

Bouker initially was going to try to find yet another attorney to represent Stevenson, who currently is being held in Oswego, but voiced concern about being able to do so.

Bouker then decided otherwise.

"I'm not going to let Mr. Schwartz out until I can find someone to represent him," Bouker said of Stevenson case.

As it is, Bouker said, he doesn't see a conflict.

As a result, Schwartz is remaining in the case and the trial date was set.