- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court has upheld the capital murder conviction of a man sentenced to life in prison for shooting two people at a Wichita store in 2012.

Marquis J. Marshall was convicted in the deaths of 22-year-old Zachary Hunt, a Dollar General store employee, and 79-year-old Henry Harvey, a customer. Marshall’s no-parole life sentence came after the state chose not to seek the death penalty.

In a unanimous decision released Friday, the state Supreme Court rejected Marshall’s claims that the Sedgwick County District Court erred in refusing to order a competency hearing for him and that it failed to consider his request for new counsel sufficiently. Marshall also claimed the trial judge misspoke during jury instructions, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1RtKKaP).

The state Supreme Court said the trial court was correct in deciding that Marshall’s ability to answer the judge’s questions showed him to be capable of understanding the charges against him and participating in his own defense.

The court also ruled that Marshall understood he was being represented by one of the state’s few lawyers with a background in capital murder defense. The court noted Marshall withdrew one request for a new lawyer before submitting another. It said he offered no factual evidence to support his request.

“Though an indigent criminal defendant has a constitutional right to the assistance of counsel, such a defendant cannot compel the district court to appoint the counsel of defendant’s choice,” Justice Eric Rosen wrote in the high court opinion.

The high court did acknowledge that a court reporter’s transcription error created an incorrect record of the judge telling the jury that Marshall had pleaded guilty to capital murder when he had not done so. The reporter later filed a corrected version reflecting the judge’s actual statement that Marshall had pleaded “not guilty” to the charge.

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Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com

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