Kansas Supreme Court Reconsiders Death Penalty For Wichita’s Carr Brothers | KCUR

Kansas Supreme Court Reconsiders Death Penalty For Wichita’s Carr Brothers

May 5, 2017

Attorneys for two convicted murderers argued Thursday that the Kansas Supreme Court should overturn their death sentences.

Jonathan and Reginald Carr were sentenced to death for the 2000 murders of four people in Wichita. 

Sarah Ellen Johnson, an attorney representing Jonathan Carr, called the original proceedings 15 years ago “filled” with errors to the point where it wasn’t a fair trial.

“Did the accumulation of errors have any effect on the jurors’ verdict? I don’t see how it couldn’t have,” she said.

Attorney Debra Wilson argued that one of the errors blocked Reginald Carr from offering a complete defense.

“How reliable is a sentence of death from a jury that wasn’t given access to the information?” Wilson asked.

Attorneys for both brothers pointed to the fact that they were tried and sentenced together as one of the problems. However, David Lowden, arguing for the state of Kansas, said the issues in question would not have affected the outcome.

“Any error … pales in comparison to the strength of the evidence,” Lowden said.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said some of the alleged problems at the trial were not actually errors at the time. He said legal precedent has changed.

This is the latest step in a long legal battle. The state Supreme Court previously overturned the death sentences, but they were later reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bennett said the long time frame is to make sure the process is careful and accurate.

“It is a slow process by design. I don’t think that there is a fast track to the death chamber,” Bennett said.

The case also became a campaign issue in last year’s judicial retention elections.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.