State Supreme Court to issue ruling Friday on Carr brothers’ appeals

07/24/2014 1:37 PM

08/08/2014 10:25 AM

After years of legal wrangling, the Kansas Supreme Court is scheduled to issue its opinion Friday on the appeals of convicted Wichita murderers Jonathan and Reginald Carr.

The decision comes 12 years after the Carr brothers were convicted in one of the most notorious crimes in Wichita history.

Jonathan Carr, 34, and Reginald Carr, 36, raised dozens of issues in their appeals.

One of the objections was that the trial court denied the brothers’ motions that they be tried separately.

During oral arguments on Dec. 17, defense lawyers told the Supreme Court that the brothers should get new, separate trials.

Public defender Sara Ellen Johnson, Jonathan Carr’s attorney, said that Reginald Carr engaged in courtroom “antics,” turning jurors against both brothers.

The brothers’ lawyers also contended that a decision by the judge to seat a strongly pro-death-penalty juror – who later became foreman – tainted the trial.

Sedgwick County prosecutors objected, saying a new trial would result in the same outcome.

The brothers are also challenging the constitutionality of Kansas’ death penalty.

They were convicted and sentenced in 2002 for murdering five people during a crime spree in December 2000.

They were found guilty in the killings of Jason Befort, 26; Brad Heyka, 27; Aaron Sander, 29; and Heather Muller, 25.

The four were terrorized, robbed, sexually assaulted and kidnapped on Dec. 15, 2000, before being gunned down execution-style; they were forced to kneel in a frozen soccer field near 29th Street North and Greenwich.

A fifth victim, a 25-year-old woman left for dead after being shot in the head, survived and was able to make her way to a nearby house and call police. A manhunt for the brothers soon began.

The Carr brothers also were convicted of murdering Ann Walenta, 55, who was shot and mortally wounded Dec. 11, 2000, in an apparent carjacking and robbery.

Since the convictions, Reginald Carr’s attorneys filed 23 extension requests before filing a written brief in October 2009. Jonathan Carr’s attorneys filed 20 extensions before filing their written brief in September 2009.

The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office filed its brief for Reginald Carr’s appeal in October 2012 after requesting eight extensions. The D.A.’s brief on Jonathan Carr was filed July 2012 after nine extensions.

The appeals process also stalled because of a legal dispute over the state’s capital punishment law.

No one has been executed in Kansas since 1965.

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