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Court: Man can’t withdraw guilty pleas in 2 Topeka killings

July 9, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday blocked a man’s attempt to withdraw his guilty pleas after he was sentenced to serve at least 50 years in prison for the 2018 murders of a woman and her cousin.

The high court rejected Matthew Douglas Hutto’s claim that his court-appointed attorney’s advice to plead guilty to two charges of premeditated first-degree murder meant that the lawyer did not adequately represent him.

Hutto was part of what the Supreme Court called a “murderous group” living with Brad Sportsman in the small town of Greenleaf, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) northwest of Topeka. Sportsman’s estranged wife, Lisa, had moved to Topeka, and the group traveled to Topeka in July 2018 to kill her. A cousin, 17-year-old Jesse Polinskey, was staying with her.

Polinskey and Lisa Sportsman were beaten and stabbed to death, and evidence showed that Hutto actively participated in their killings. Hutto’s attorney advised him that with a trial, the evidence against him would be strong that he was almost certain to face conviction and a 25-year prison sentence.

Hutto argued that his attorney “fear mongered” him into the guilty pleas, but Shawnee County District Judge David Debenham refused to let Hutto withdraw them.