Crime & Courts

Four misconceptions about the Carr cases, explained

Jonathan, left, and Reginald Carr
Jonathan, left, and Reginald Carr Courtesy photos

Brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr murdered five Wichitans and terrorized two others during a nine-day crime spree in December 2000. Here are some misconceptions about their cases.

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The Carrs’ sentences were overturned: Partly true. The Carrs’ death sentences were overturned by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2014. But prison sentences they received for dozens of other crimes are still intact. Many weren’t even challenged on appeal. And after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling reversed the Kansas Supreme Court, the state court must look again at whether to uphold the death sentences.

The Carrs are getting a new trial: Unclear for now. Jurors will not have to decide again whether the Carrs are guilty of capital murder. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld that conviction. But if the court vacates the brothers’ death sentences a second time, they could receive new sentencing hearings. That’s not the same as receiving an entirely new trial.

The brothers are serving life in prison now in lieu of the death penalty: False. The Carrs’ death sentences have not been commuted to life in prison. They were vacated by the Kansas Supreme Court, but the U.S. Supreme Court disagreed with its reasons and sent the cases back for further consideration. No decision has been made on what to do next.

The Carrs will get out of prison: Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett and others in the legal field have said the brothers have no chance of getting out of prison even if they ultimately end up with a life prison sentence instead of a death sentence for the execution-style killings of four Wichitans. The prison sentences the Carrs received for their other crimes have to be served after any life prison sentences that carry parole eligibility. And even if the brothers live long enough to have a parole hearing, Bennett said their crimes are so infamous and heinous that no one would agree to release them into the community.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker

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