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Kansas Given Go Ahead to Uphold Death Sentences of Carr Brothers
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Carr Brothers

Photo courtesy of the Kansas Department of Corrections

Summary: The Kansas Supreme Court overturned the death sentence convictions of the Carr brothers, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Kansas had no right to do so.

The U.S. Supreme Court made a bold move by siding together in an 8 to 1 vote against the Kansas Supreme Court. Kansas officials wanted to execute two brothers for the “Wichita Massacre,” but the Kansas Supreme Court had overturned their death sentence.

  
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Reginald and Jonathan Carr were sentenced to death for the brutal killings of four people in Wichita and attempted murder of a fifth. Justice Antonin Scalia called their acts “almost inconceivable cruelty and depravity.” The U.S. Supreme Court declared that the Kansas Supreme Court was wrong to overturn the death sentences.

The two issues to be reviewed were whether the jury in the case was given the correct instructions on how to weigh evidence and whether the men should have had separate trials. The brothers raped, robbed, forced sexual intercourse between the victims and then attempted to shoot the three men and two women execution-style in a park in Wichita, Kansas, in 2000. One of the women survived when the bullet bounced off her hair clip. She walked through the snow naked to find help.

Scalia’s 18-page ruling included details of the crime and how the jury was properly instructed: “Jurors will accord mercy if they deem it appropriate, and withhold mercy if they do not, which is what our case law was designed to achieve.”

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Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only dissenter, mostly on the grounds that they should never have reviewed the case to begin with. She argued that Kansas has the right to govern as needed in their state and that her colleagues only took the case because of the reputation of the Carr brothers’ crime.

Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg questioned the constitutionality of the death penalty last year but sided with Scalia this time.



Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/court-sides-with-kansas-officials-in-upholding-death-penalty-for-brothers/2016/01/20/078b2d40-bf8b-11e5-9443-7074c3645405_story.html

Photo courtesy of the Kansas Department of Corrections



 

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