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Defense attorneys Paul Bruno, center, and Luke Evans, right, converse in this file photo while appearing before Judge Don Poole during the case of Marlon Duane Kiser, left.

Is Marlon Kiser, the convicted cop-killer who spent the last 12 years on death row, the victim of an elaborate setup?

According to the case made by the prosecutors who got him a murder conviction, Marlon Kiser killed Hamilton County Sheriff's Deputy Donald Bond when Bond caught him trying to burn down Nunley's Produce in East Brainerd in 2001.

But Kiser says it was a setup -- that his roommate, Mike Chattin, who is now dead, killed Bond because the deputy was having an affair with Chattin's wife. Kiser says Chattin framed him for the murder.

Today will mark the fourth hearing in Kiser's post-conviction petition, the last step in what essentially is a decade-long appeal process. The Tennessee Supreme Court has upheld Kiser's conviction

Kiser's attorneys will likely wrap up arguments in a case that's alleged illicit sex and prosecutorial misconduct. According to a post-conviction petition filed on his behalf, Kiser isn't the vicious criminal prosecutors made him out to be at trial. Instead, his attorneys say, Kiser fell victim to incompetence and abuse of power.

Kiser's first post-conviction petition hearing took place in August, and a witness said Chattin as much as admitted to killing Bond.

"He said he would gut me like he did the cop if I was there to set him up," Mack Heard testified.

A neighbor also testified at that hearing that Chattin said he was going to kill Bond.

Then, during two days of hearings in November, Kiser's attorneys tried to draw out details of an alleged affair between a victim-witness coordinator and the judge who tried his case.

Also addressed in those two hearings were allegations of ineffective counsel, which are fairly standard for post-conviction petitions. Kiser's attorneys claim his public defenders didn't prepare him for trial and ignored evidence, including allegations of the affair.

Kiser's attorneys declined to talk on the record ahead of the hearing, but said they will likely finish today.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.

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