Supreme Court to Review Kan. Death Penalty Cases

     (CN) – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of a Kansas Supreme Court ruling overturning the death sentences of three men convicted of murder.
     Jonathan and Reginald Carr were convicted for carrying out a murder and sex crime spree in December 2000. According to the reports in the Topeka Capital-Journal, the brothers invaded the home of three Wichita men, Brad Heyka, Aaron Sander and Jason Befort, in December 2000, and forced all three, and the two women visiting the home, to take off their clothes and engage in various sex acts.
     The brothers then raped the two women, and then took each of their five victims to a ATM machine and forced them to withdraw all they could. The Carrs then drove their still naked victims to a Wichita soccer field, forced them to kneel in the snow, and shot them execution style before running them over with their truck.
     All three men and one of the women, Heather Muller, died. The brothers were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.
     The Carrs were also convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a woman shot four days before the other killings.
     In July 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the Carr’s convictions on one count of capital murder, but reversed their death sentences. In doing so it explained that there were procedural problems at the trial, namely that the jury instructions on sex-based murder charges and the Capital Murder charges, were duplicated.
     The third man whose case will be considered by the high court is Sidney Gleason, who was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the 2004 shooting deaths of a young Great Bend, Kan. couple he feared would tell police of an earlier crime.. At the time of the murders, Gleason was on parole following his conviction of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
     As in the case of the Carrs, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Gleason’s convictions, but tossed his death sentence on the grounds that jury instructions may have violated his constitutional rights.
     In his petitions for writs of certiorari in each of the cases, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt argued the state Supreme Court’s 8th Amendments holdings conflicted with the decisions of other state courts of last resort, the current law of several states, and possibly, the law and procedures governing federal and U.S. military capital cases.
     In a statement after the writs were granted, Schmidt said he was “encouraged” the justices decided to hear the case.
     “We have carefully analyzed the opinions of the Kansas Supreme Court and we do not believe they have correctly applied the U.S. Constitution,” Schmidt said.

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