TOPEKA, Kansas – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced Friday that he will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate death sentences for two brothers over the fatal shooting of four people in snow-covered soccer field and another man convicted of murdering a couple.
Schmidt notified the state Supreme Court that he is appealing its rulings in the cases of Jonathan and Reginald Carr and Sidney Gleason.
The Carr brothers were sentenced to lethal injection for the four killings, which occurred in Wichita in December 2000 and followed dozens of other crimes, including robbery and rape. Gleason was sentenced to die over the couple’s deaths, in the central Kansas town of Great Bend in February 2004.
“In each case, we doubt the U.S. Constitution compelled the Kansas court to set aside the death sentences that were recommended by juries of the defendants’ peers,” Schmidt said in a statement.
An attorney who represented both Gleason and Jonathan Carr did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.
The Kansas court hasn’t upheld a death sentence since the state enacted a new capital punishment law in 1994, and the state’s last legal executions, by hanging, were in 1965. It has another five men on death row.
The rulings in the Carr brothers’ cases prompted criticism from the Republican-dominated Legislature because the crimes were among the most notorious in the state since the 1959 killings of a western Kansas farm family that inspired the classic book, “In Cold Blood.”
Authorities said the Carr brothers broke into a Wichita home and forced the three men and two women inside to have sex with each other and repeatedly raped the women.
The brothers forced them to withdraw money from ATMs before taking them to the field, where one woman survived a gunshot wound to the head and ran naked through the snow for help.
The Kansas court ruled that the brothers should have had separate sentencing hearings, instead of a joint one.
In Gleason’s case, the same court said the presiding judge gave flawed instructions to jurors about weighing evidence in favor and against recommending a death sentence. One victim was a woman who’d witnessed a robbery in which he was involved. The other was her boyfriend, and authorities said Gleason shot him as he sat in a Jeep.