Opinion Columns & Blogs

Stand with victims and vote ‘no’

In December of 2000, our brother, Jason Befort, was brutally murdered by Jonathan and Reginald Carr. Jason, only 26, and was a public school teacher and coach for Augusta schools.

In 2002, the Carr brothers were found guilty and sentenced to death by a jury. We found comfort in knowing justice was going to be served.

Sixteen years later, we are still at the first step in the appeal process. The Kansas Supreme Court approved dozens of continuances to the Carrs’ lawyers and ultimately in 2014 overturned the death sentences of the brothers based on technicalities.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Kansas Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision and restored the death sentences. Unfortunately, the fight for justice continues, as our case is back in the hands of the Kansas Supreme Court.

What many do not know is we are not the only families affected by the Kansas Supreme Court’s decisions. In fact, this court overturned the sentences of every death penalty case until this year.

Other cases include the Greenwood County sheriff who was killed in the line of duty by a drug dealer. That death sentence and conviction were overturned. Another case was a mother and her 1-year-old child who were brutally murdered by Michael Lee Marsh, whose death sentence was overturned. There was also the family of a young girl who was raped by an adult male when she was only 13 years old. His life sentence in prison was thrown out by this court this September.

Our goal is not to help the governor gain control of the court. Anyone telling you that is lying. We do not support Gov. Sam Brownback – this is a scare tactic. A nine-member commission, the majority of whom are lawyers picked by other Kansas attorneys, interviews and chooses three finalists for each Kansas Supreme Court vacancy, of which the governor chooses one. We heard from Supreme Court Justice Marla Luckert herself that the process by which the justices are chosen is fair and the governor does not have control of that process.

We do not need to keep these justices to protect our education system. Education is very important to our families. We have been lifelong supporters of our public schools. Think of the money that could have been better spent on education had the Supreme Court been following the law instead of overturning death penalty sentences and giving continuances.

Our mission is to educate Kansans of the misuse of the court’s power. Who will you believe, politicians or fellow Kansans?

If one of these victims were your child or your brother, how would you vote? Please vote “no” on retention of Kansas Supreme Court justices Luckert, Carol Beier, Dan Biles and Lawton Nuss, who are directly responsible for these terrible decisions.

Mark and Lisa Befort live in Pratt.