Kansas court affirms Carr brothers' death sentences
TOPEKA, Kan. (KAKE) - Kansas’ top court has affirmed the death sentences for two brothers facing execution for four notorious slayings that became known as “the Wichita massacre.”
Jonathan and Reginald Carr have spent the last two decades on death row in Kansas, convicted of the rape, torture and murders of five Wichitans in December of 2000.
Prosecutors said the brothers broke into a home and forced the three men and two women there to have sex with each other and later to withdraw money from ATMs. The women were raped repeatedly before all five were taken to a soccer field and shot. Four victims died: Aaron Sander, 29; Brad Heyka, 27; Jason Befort, 26; and Heather Muller, 25. One of the women survived to testify against the Carr brothers.
A jury in a joint trial convicted the brothers for the crimes. Each brother was found guilty of multiple offenses, including multiple counts of capital murder. After a separate sentencing proceeding, the jury sentenced both brothers to death.
The Carr brothers appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, which issued an opinion affirming a single capital murder conviction for each brother, among other lesser convictions. But the Court vacated the death sentences, concluding that their Eighth Amendment rights were violated.
The U.S. Supreme Court reversed that decision and sent the case back to the Kansas high court for reconsideration. The Kansas Supreme Court on Friday affirmed the Carr Brothers' death sentences.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued the following statement:
“The legal path to this day has been long and winding for the victims and their families, for the Wichita and Sedgwick County community, and for all of Kansas, but today’s decisions by the Kansas Supreme Court are welcome confirmations that although the wheels of justice may turn slowly they do ultimately propel us all forward. Absent a successful request by the defendants for the U.S. Supreme Court to again review the case, which seems unlikely at this stage, today’s decisions will conclude the direct appeals in this case with the result that both defendants stand convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death as Sedgwick County juries determined to be appropriate so many years ago.
“This does not mean the litigation in these cases is concluded because the defendants now have the opportunity, under both state and federal law, to seek further judicial review of their cases. But completing these direct appeals is an important milestone in the path toward justice for the horrific crimes these defendants committed and the innocent lives they took."