Sanderholm family joins Kansans for Justice

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Kansans for Justice added the family of Arkansas City murder victim Jodi Sanderholm Wednesday, in its fight to remove justices from the Kansas Supreme Court.

Jodi Sanderholm was murdered in January 2006.  Justin Thurber was convicted of the crime and sentenced to death in 2009.  His death sentence case hasn't reached the state Supreme Court.

Speaking for the family was Jennifer Aldridge, Sanderholm's sister. "We are now with them because it's not a fight that just one of us can do on our own.  We have to join together," she said.

Kansans for Justice calls itself a non-partisan group of concerned citizens, not affiliated with any political party, coalition or organization.  

President and spokesperson Amy James said the group is funded by the friends and family of the victims of the Carr brothers' murders.  Reginald and Jonathan Carr went on a crime spree in December 2000, killing five people while committing rapes, assaults and robberies. They were sentenced to death, but two years ago the Kansas Supreme Court overturned those sentences. Then in January of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death sentences. The Carrs remain on death row at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.

Kansans for Justice cites the Kansas Supreme Court's overturning of the death sentences as the reason it's asking voters not to retain justices on the ballot for retention in this election.

Kansans for Justice took issue with KAKE News for not clarifying why the group was not calling for the removal of Justice Caleb Stegall, while calling votes against Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Maria Luckert and Lawton Nuss. James explained: "The reason why Caleb Stegall is not included in our campaign is because he didn't rule on any of the death penalty cases and he is new and so he wasn't around when those came around."  

A different group, Kansans For Fair Courts, responded to Wednesday's announcement. That group wants voters to retain all five the justices. Executive Director Ryan Wright said, "This is the problem that we run into when we take these very highly-charged emotional issues and politicize them.  This is exactly why Kansans made sure to not include the Kansas Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals in the political process."   

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