Kansas AG asks lawmakers to keep death penalty

TOPEKA | Standing in front of the relatives of murder victims today, Kansas Attorney General Steve Six urged state lawmakers to vote against efforts to repeal the state’s death penalty.

A bill in the Senate argues the death penalty is too expensive and should be repealed. The full Senate is set to debate the emotional issue Monday.

Six said he doesn’t buy the cost-savings argument, and said the state’s law is sound and applied conservatively. Currently, 10 men sit on the state’s death row. Kansas hasn’t executed anyone in more than 40 years.

The state’s worst killers, Six said, “have forfeited the right to live among us in our society.”

Exhibit A: The notorious Carr brothers of Wichita, sentenced to death for killing five people in Wichita in 2000. Reginald and Jonathan Carr’s week-long crime spree culminated with a home invasion in which five people were robbed, stripped naked and sexually abused before being shot execution style in a field. The Carr brothers then drove over their bodies.

Six said it’s a case that “demonstrates why we need the death penalty.”

Relatives of the Carr brothers’ victim stood behind Six at today’s press conference, a few wiping away tears as they recalled the events from nine years ago. They told reporters that capital punishment is a necessary and reasonable punishment for the worst offenders.

“It’s not a matter of closure for us,” said Amy Scott, whose boyfriend was killed by the Carr brothers. “It’s a matter of justice.”

Six discounted the idea that a repeal could translate into savings for the state by avoiding costly death penalty appeals. He said murderers are just as likely to appeal a life sentence as a death sentence.

But he said fiscal reasons are no reason to oppose the death penalty anyway.

“You can’t put a price on justice in these cases,” he said.

And he said that any repeal now could impact two capital cases – Michael Marsh and Gavin Scott – who are set to be resentenced. If the bill passes, the death penalty would not be an option for the two convicted killers.

And Six noted that other killers already sentenced to death are appealing their cases too. Any change in the status of the death penalty could impact their cases too.

“If they succeed in their appeals the death penalty will be off the table,” he said.