Investigators got what they wanted when Jonathan and Reginald Carr got the death penalty. The Carr brothers were convicted of killing five people in December 2000. The murders became known as the Wichita Massacre.
Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court felt it wasn't fair for the two convicted murderers to be sentenced at the same hearing. State justices overturned both death sentences.
Now, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is fighting back. "We are not convinced that the Kansas court's application of federal constitutional requirements is correct, so we are requesting review of all three cases by the U.S. Supreme Court," said Schmidt.
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett says the U.S. Justices are very selective. "Of course, everybody wants their case to go to the Supreme Court. Defendants and the State alike, if they lose. I understand there are less than 10% of cases that typically, in a given year, are accepted," said Bennett.
The U.S. Supreme Court will only take cases with federal constitution ramifications, which means it won't get involved on anything specific to state law. In the Carr brothers case, the KAG is citing what's called severance. Severance is trying two or more defendants involved in the same cases separately.
Bennett says if the U.S. Supreme Court does not take the case it will come back to Sedgwick County. His office could retry the counts that were dismissed or retry the penalty phase. Both would have to be done in separate proceedings.
Bennett says because the Carr brothers are still convicted of felony and capital murder, no matter the outcome, they will still never see life outside prison walls. "Best case scenario, we're talking 70, 80 years from now before either would see a parole board which is a functional equivalent of a life without parole," said Bennett.
Bennett says he has been in direct contact with the victims' families about the details of the process. "After this many years they've grown accustomed to having to attend to this and deal with this," said Bennett. "They're very nice people and you know, they've been through a lot."
Bennett says the U.S. Supreme Court will likely make a decision by the end of the year. If it takes the case, Bennett says it could be argued by spring and decided by mid-summer.