Summary of Offense:
Convicted of capital murder for the December 15, 2000 murders of Jason Befort, Brad Heyka, Heather Muller and Aaron Sander and of first-degree murder (non-capital) for killing Ann Walenta four days before the quadruple murder.
Summary of Offense:
Convicted of capital murder for the December 15, 2000 murders of Jason Befort, Brad Heyka, Heather Muller and Aaron Sander and of first-degree murder (non-capital) for killing Ann Walenta four days before the quadruple murder.
May 28, 2009
Carr brothers’ death appeal coming in June
It’s been nearly six years since a jury said Reginald and Jonathan Carr should die for the torturing and killing of four people in Wichita during a weeklong crime spree in December of 2000.
The Supreme Court should begin receiving the Carrs’ appeals by June. That’s when Jonathan Carr’s lawyer said she plans to file his appeal. His brother, Reginald Carr, has an even earlier deadline.
“This is very comparable to what we’ve had in other cases,” said Rebecca Woodman, who will represent Jonathan Carr’s appeal, on the length of time taken to file the legal papers.
The Kansas Supreme Court has extended the filing deadline for Reginald Carr 23 times, 19 for Jonathan.
“Yes, this last extension in Carr is the last,” Woodman said.
The time includes two years — from 2004 to 2006 — when all death penalty cases were put on hold, after the state’s highest court struck down the death penalty and the 1997 capital murder convictions of Michael Marsh. Marsh’s case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which eventually restored the Kansas death penalty law.
Further court battles on the capital appeal of Gavin Scott put Kansas death penalty cases on hold again from January 2007 to May of 2008.
Marsh’s case was resolved this month — 13 years after the killings — only after the prosecutors decided not to continue pursuing the death penalty. He’s serving life in prison.
But cases where the death penalty is at stake require a higher standard of legal scrutiny. As the U.S. Supreme Court has said: “death is different.”
“Non-capital murder cases … do not generally involve the type or number of constitutional issues that are present in death penalty cases,” Woodman said.
The length of time and expense is why 10 states, including Kansas, have sought to vanquish the death penalty. New Hampshire lawmakers are the latest to abolish capital punishment.
Death penalty cases not only have to pass the state’s Supreme Court but then must pass scrutiny in federal courts.
After the Carrs’ first round of arguments are filed this spring, the appeals process could last years.
No one has been executed in Kansas for 44 years.
June 14, 2009
Reginald Carr's Attorney Files Appeal Brief
Reginald Carr's appeal brief has officially been filed. The brief is 376 pages long. It brings up 37 points of appeal, which are alleged errors at trial or issues with the legality of certain statutes.
Read the 37 Points of Appeal
Some of the points of appeal include the constitutionality of the Kansas death penalty law, that a change of venue should have been granted, and Reginald should have had a separate trial from co-defendant Jonathan Carr.
The next step is for the prosecution to file its brief, which they'll have 90 days to complete or file for an extension. The case likely won't be on the docket for oral arguments until at least September.
Reginald Carr was convicted of killing five people back in 2000. His brother, Jonathan, was convicted of the same crimes.
Jonathan Carr's appeal brief is due May 26th.
June 14, 2009
The Carr brothers, 22-year-old Reginald and 20-year-old Jonathan, already had serious criminal records when they began their spree. On December 8, 2000, having recently arrived in Wichita, they committed armed robbery against 23-year-old assistant baseball coach Andrew Schreiber. Three days later, they shot and mortally wounded 55-year-old cellist and librarian Ann Walenta as she tried to escape from them in her car.
Their crime spree culminated on December 14, when they invaded a home and subjected five young men and women to robbery, sexual abuse, and murder. The brothers broke into a house chosen nearly at random where Brad Heyka, Heather Muller, Aaron Sander, Jason Befort and a young woman identified as 'H.G.', all in their twenties, were spending the night. Initially scouring the house for valuables, they forced their hostages to strip naked, bound and detained them, and subjected them to various forms of sexual humiliation, including rape and sodomy. They also forced the men to engage in sexual acts with the women, and the women with each other. They then drove the victims to ATMs to empty their bank accounts, before finally bringing them to a snowy deserted soccer complex on the outskirts of town and shooting them execution-style in the backs of their heads, leaving them for dead. The Carr brothers then drove Befort's truck over the bodies.
They returned to the house to ransack it for more valuables. It was then they claimed their final victim, Nikki, H.G.'s muzzled dog who was beaten and stabbed to death.
H.G. survived (her plastic hairpin having deflected the bullet), after running naked for more than a mile in freezing weather to report the attack and seek medical attention. In a much-remarked point of tragedy, she had seen her boyfriend Befort shot, after having learned of his intention to propose marriage when the Carrs, by chance, discovered the engagement ring hidden in a can of popcorn.
The Carr brothers, who took few precautions, were captured by the police the next day, and Reginald was identified by Schreiber and the dying Walenta. Law enforcement officials ultimately decided that the Carrs' motive was robbery, despite the other aspects of the crime. The brothers were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in October 2002.
Ten years later, Carr brothers' murders still haunt
Detective Rick Craig stood at a construction site of what would later be a soccer field in the brisk Kansas cold of December. It was 25 degrees and a 14 mph wind whistled around 3 a.m. on Dec. 15, 2000. Craig shuddered as he walked up the makeshift path to four naked bodies, all lying in the snow with gunshots to the back of the head.
"I walked up on that and I wasn't cold anymore," Craig said this week.
A decade later, Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston still is working on the case of Jonathan and Reginald Carr.
The Carrs were convicted and sentenced to death in five killings and the assault of a woman who lived to tell about the torture she and her friends endured.
Foulston's legal brief on the Carrs' appeal of the conviction and the death penalty sat in front of her at her desk on Tuesday. It's due to the Kansas Supreme Court next month.
Foulston said she still gets a churning feeling in her stomach when she remembers the crimes.
"My recollection of it is like it was yesterday," she said. "It was the most horrible and frightening experience."
Wichita awoke that morning to learn of its second quadruple killing in eight days.
Foulston didn't believe the call she received at home about multiple bodies, just after celebrating her 50th birthday.
"I said, 'that happened last week,' " Foulston said. "I could still remember being at that house, and seeing what those poor people suffered through."
The 911 dispatcher said, "No, there's been another."
Sales of home security systems jumped in those days before Christmas.
It was a fear based more on the shock of two horrible crimes than a real threat. The Carrs were locked away in jail by noon that same day.
A week of crime
Foulston remembered having to tell the parents of Heather Muller what had happened.
Muller had worked at the law office of Foulston's husband, Steve. Muller's parents couldn't find her that night and had gone to the home where her friends lived, looking for her.
Muller, 25, was one of those left dead in the field. So were Jason Befort, 26, Aaron Sander, 29, and Brad Heyka, 27.
Soon, police would piece together two other crimes.
On Dec. 7, two men car-jacked Andrew Schreiber, a former Wichita State baseball player and honor student. He was forced at gunpoint to drive around east Wichita, withdrawing money from ATMs before being released unharmed. His captors fired a bullet into his car tire.
On Dec. 11, Ann Walenta, a cellist with the Wichita Symphony, was critically shot during a carjacking attempt. She died of her wounds on Jan. 2, 2001.
Bullets would tie those crimes to the same gun used to kill the four others.
Death penalty cases get an automatic appeal, and the cases have proven a slippery slope in Kansas.
The state's highest court has overturned every death penalty case since the state reinstated a law allowing for capital punishment in 1994.
No one has been executed in Kansas since 1965.
The death penalty has been put on hold several times during the eight years since a jury convicted the Carrs and condemned them to execution in November 2002.
That has pushed back deadlines for filing briefs. The Carrs' appellate public defenders filed lengthy arguments early this year.
The public defenders are arguing that the brothers should have been tried separately instead of together and that the brother who didn't do the shooting shouldn't face death.
According to the testimony of the surviving woman, the shots came one after another, indicating there was one shooter. Jonathan Carr, his lawyer is arguing, watched his brother kill the four victims, according to the briefs.
Foulston hopes this will be the first death penalty case that passes the constitutional test.
"No one is entitled to a perfect trial, only a fair one," Foulston said. "But this came close to being a perfect trial, in terms of legal issues and being resolved and how we went about trying the case."
Foulston pointed to the jury, which found Jonathan Carr not guilty of Walenta's killing.
"It shows the jury just didn't write it off — they carefully considered the cases separately," she said.
Foulston said that care by the jury could be a key factor in upholding the convictions and sentence.
As a veteran homicide detective, Craig hopes people remember the crimes as being solved with the help of concerned citizens who weren't afraid to get involved.
"That's something you don't always get," Craig said.
When police put out a description of a Dodge pickup, a man spotted it in a Wichita apartment complex and notified police.
That led to the arrest of Jonathan Carr early that morning.
When a woman in north Wichita heard a description of the shirt one of the assailants wore, she called police. A man fitting that description — a friend of her daughter — had spent the night at her house.
Jonathan Carr was still at the house when she called. He ran when he saw police and was arrested after a foot chase through the neighborhood.
"I wish we had more cases where that happened," Craig said. "Crimes would be solved a lot more quickly and the cases would be stronger."
The surviving woman was saved by a plastic butterfly hair clip. The bullet to the back of her head shattered the clip, which kept it from killing her.
The woman played dead and waited for the killers to leave before hiking, naked and bleeding, through the snow to a nearby house for help.
"If you don't believe in God, you have to ask if He didn't help keep her alive and help her across the field," Craig said.
Foulston speaks of the case the same way.
"There was like a divine providence in all of this," she said.
After the trial, the surviving woman would marry Schreiber, the former WSU baseball player who was also kidnapped by the brothers. They moved from Wichita. Schreiber went to work in law enforcement.
"Sometimes, I will take a family vacation and go visit them," Craig said.
"We don't talk about what happened," Craig added. "But I am amazed by her strength. She is so strong. I think she's great. She's an angel."
Read more: http://www.kansas.com/2010/12/15/163...#ixzz18BZIxRAU
As per the Communications Director Office of the District Attorney, Carr's direct appeal was not filed until 10/10/09 instead of 06/09. Since the defense team took 7 years to provide the DA's office with the briefs, it will take a few more months for the DA's office to file their response, considering they have to respond to each claim raised. Once filed, case # 90044 should be scheduled for oral argument.
DA seeks help in appeal of Carr murder convictions
District Attorney Nola Foulston plans to ask Sedgwick County commissioners today to appoint a special district attorney to help with the appeal of convicted murderers Jonathan and Reginald Carr.
Foulston said the appointment will help ease the workload of her appeals office, which this month asked the Kansas Supreme Court for at least three months to file its side in one of the most notorious crimes in Wichita history.
It's the first time in her 22 years in office, Foulston said, she's asked for outside help.
"We are not asking the county for any additional money," Foulston said. "This will be paid for with savings we have accumulated."
Jurors convicted both men in November 2002 on counts of murder, kidnapping, rape and sodomy during a home invasion two years earlier that left four people dead.
Killed in an execution-style shooting in December 2000 were Heather Muller, 25, Jason Befort, 26, Aaron Sander, 29, and Brad Heyka, 27. A fifth woman survived a shot to the head and ran a mile in the snow to get help. She later testified at the trial.
Reginald Carr also was convicted in the death the previous week of Ann Walenta, a cellist with the Wichita Symphony.
The Carr brothers have appealed their convictions and their death sentences.
"It took them seven years to generate their brief," Foulston said of attorneys for the Carrs.
The appeal stalled, in part, because of weaknesses in the state's death penalty law. Since Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, no capital murder conviction has withstood an appeal.
Little more than a year after the Carrs' trial, all capital cases were put on hold for more than a year after the state's highest court declared the death penalty unconstitutional in December 2004.
Cases involving seven death sentences, including the Carrs, were halted for two years while the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The nation's highest court ruled in Kansas' favor in June 2006.
The four public defenders who handle all of the state's death penalty cases filed their briefs in the Carr case in October 2009, after asking for 12 extensions.
"I'm not saying they were twiddling their thumbs. I'm saying it took them seven years to put this together," Foulston said. "Hopefully, it's not going to take us seven years to speak to it."
Among a long list of issues on appeal are whether the Carrs should have received separate trials. Jonathan Carr's attorney also argues that he didn't fire the shots that killed anyone and shouldn't have been sentenced to death for aiding in the murders.
Faced with more than 350 pages for each of the Carrs' appeals, Foulston's office filed for its sixth extension earlier this month.
"These are fairly substantial briefs that are nearly four times as big, or bigger, than the standard brief," Foulston said.
David Lowden, chief appeals attorney for Foulston, told the Kansas Supreme Court his office has spent more than 500 hours on the Carrs' appeal the past 18 months.
But Lowden told the court that illness, vacations and personal matters for him and his staff had limited their work on the Carr case to only 40 hours the past three months.
The office also had 20 other briefs due before the Carrs' deadlines, Lowden added.
"It's like the pipeline that never stops flowing," Foulston said. "But it has to clog somewhere. And it clogs there in court. They only take a certain amount of cases, and it takes eons to write these briefs."
Lowden also cited "the volume and complexity of the case, in general," as another reason for needing more time on the Carrs' case.
Foulston is asking the county to appoint Debra Peterson, a former appeals attorney for the district attorney, to work on the case.
Peterson has agreed to help part-time while continuing her job in the legal department at Cessna Aircraft. She worked on the case as a member of the DA's office when it was brought to trial in 2002.
"David Lowden just breathed a big sigh of relief," Foulston said. "I think he was in a panic over trying to get this done."
Peterson will be paid $45 an hour as a special prosecutor — a fraction of what an attorney in private practice would be paid, Foulston said. Peterson is expected to work 15 to 20 hours a week on the appeal.
The state's briefs in the case, Foulston anticipated, should be completed sometime next year.
"It's not going to be done overnight," Foulston said. "It's going to take a substantial amount of time and effort."
Read more: http://www.kansas.com/2011/04/27/182...#ixzz1Kikj1lcP
Kansas high court to hear death penalty case
The Kansas Supreme Court will hear arguments in the capital murder cases of two men on death row.
The high court said Monday that the justices will hear oral arguments Dec. 17 in the cases of brothers Jonathan Carr and Reginald Carr, who were sentenced to death in December 2002 after they kidnapped five people from a Wichita home in 2000 and fatally shot four of them. A fifth person also was shot but survived.
The Carrs also were convicted of murder in the death of a woman shot four days before the soccer field slayings.
The state Supreme Court overturned the state’s death penalty law in 2004. That ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Kansas’ capital punishment statute and returned the Carrs to death row.
A uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.
The Carr brothers' case needs closure
By Dan Deming
This isn’t the traditional Christmas season message that one wants to write about or read, but in case you haven’t caught up with recent developments, the Carr brothers of Wichita are back in the news. A hearing is scheduled next week on their 11-year-old murder convictions and death sentence. If there ever was a case meriting the death penalty, this is it. Frankly, I’m infuriated that the Carrs weren’t sent to meet their maker long ago.
I have reluctantly evolved to where I could accept a truly non-paroleable life sentence for certain heinous murder cases, but as long as we have capital punishment and people who are convicted and sentenced under that law, it is pathetic we engage in a seemingly endless series of appeals, efforts to find technical loopholes to reverse justice and put off death for those having no reasonable doubt about their guilt.
Reginald and Jonathan Carr certainly fit this definition, not only admitting their crimes but found guilty with mountains of clear, convincing evidence. Their appeal process stalled because of a legal dispute over Kansas’ capital punishment law, but in 2006, almost eight years ago, the nation’s highest court ruled in Kansas’ favor enabling seven convicted killers to proceed to the gallows. Since then, there have been no executions.
For the record, the Carr brothers broke into a Wichita home on Dec. 15, 2000, taking five people hostage, killing four of them in a field with the only survivor forced to run naked to help at a nearby house. Reginald was also convicted of killing a woman during a car jacking several days earlier. Their trial was closely followed and there was absolutely no evidence of innocence.
Defense attorneys, trying to avoid the death penalty for their clients, filed nearly two dozen extentions before finally submitting legal briefs in 2009. That was followed by nine prosecution extensions before arguments were finalized. Now, the Kansas Supreme Court has finally scheduled oral arguments for Dec. 17. When our local Supremes finally deny their appeal, that decision will be followed by years of more appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Lots of us will be dead before a final ruling eventually allows a poisonous needle to be put in their veins; I’m guessing somewhere around 2026.
I am a big supporter of the “innocence project” and similar efforts to use modern forensic techniques and other new evidence to free an alarming number of people who have been sentenced to death but are actually not guilty. And in a few cases, rights have been trampled and people convicted without adequate investigation. But in most capital cases, and certainly the Carr brothers, there is virtually no question about their guilt. Their crimes are so heinous; reasonable appeals and reviews have been exhausted; yet the legal system allows continued delays, causing huge additional costs and extending emotional trauma and delayed closing for crime victims.
One of the many problems from these extended delays and appeals is that some convicted criminals do change. They sometimes appear more reasonable, remorseful and gather considerably more sympathy from outsiders and those working on their cases. Memories of what they did fade as time passes. No one has been executed in Kansas since 1965. Since Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, no death penalty has withstood appeal.
If a majority of Kansans, through their state lawmakers, indicate they want to abolish capital punishment, fine. Just make sure it is replaced by a law that truly will never allow release for certain crimes previously punishable by death. To me, spending one’s life in a tiny cell with virtually no daily contact and minimal privileges is probably a worse sentence than death. And we take away the highly remote, but still possible, situation of executing someone who is actually not guilty. But the Carr brothers are guilty and were sentenced to die long ago.
Until Kansas abolishes the death sentence, let’s hope the Supreme Court denies the Carr brothers appeal and allows their 11-year-old fate to finally be carried out. They, along with most others I am familiar with who have remained on death row in Kansas far too long, deserve to pay for what they did. I remain a believer that justice delayed is usually justice denied. There is a major problem with a system when it takes more than a decade to carry out death for two men who showed no respect for five human lives and where there is no doubt about what they did.
Dan Deming, former general manager of Hutchinson radio station KWBW, is retired and is a Reno County Commissioner.
Kansas Supreme Court hears Carr brothers’ death penalty appeals
By Dion Lefler
The Wichita Eagle
TOPEKA — Eleven years after Reginald and Jonathan Carr were sentenced to death in the brutal slayings of four people in a frozen field, lawyers for both brothers told the state Supreme Court they should get new, separate trials because they damaged each other’s defenses when they were tried together.
The lawyers also contended that a decision by the judge to seat a strongly pro-death-penalty juror – who later became foreman – tainted the trial.
Sedgwick County prosecutors countered that the evidence against the brothers was overwhelming in favor of conviction and the death sentence.
The allegations of trial errors are unfounded, said David Lowden, a Sedgwick County assistant district attorney who argued for the state in Jonathan Carr’s appeal.
“If you retry this case again, I think the outcome will be the same,” he said.
Debra J. Wilson, Reginald Carr’s appellate defender, also argued that he in particular should be retried because a ruling on evidence restrained him from mounting an effective defense.
And Jonathan Carr’s appellate lawyer, Sarah Ellen Johnson, argued that the case should have been moved out of Wichita because of the saturation media coverage of the horrific murders.
“All of these things start to pile on and we have to ask at the end of the day, was this a fair trial?” Johnson said.
The defense and prosecution lawyers squared off in back-to-back appeals hearings Tuesday in the case of the Carr brothers, who were convicted in 2002 in the slayings of four young people the night of Dec. 15, 2000.
The brothers were found guilty and sentenced to death in the killings of Jason Befort, 26; Brad Heyka, 27; Aaron Sander, 29; and Heather Muller, 25.
The four were terrorized, robbed, sexually assaulted and kidnapped before finally being gunned down execution-style after being forced to kneel in a frozen soccer field near 29th Street North and Greenwich.
A fifth victim, a 25-year-old woman left for dead after being shot in the head, survived and was able to make her way through the snow to get medical aid and start the manhunt for the killers.
The Carr brothers also were convicted of murdering Ann Walenta, 55, shot and mortally wounded Dec. 11, 2000, in an apparent carjacking and robbery.
In Reginald Carr’s hearing Tuesday morning, Wilson focused on three phases of a multi-part appeal:
• That he was denied a fair trial by a judge’s ruling against introduction of his claim that Jonathan Carr and another unidentified man committed the Dec. 15 slayings, and that he had only agreed to take and hide some of the stolen property after the fact.
• That trying the two brothers together prejudiced the jury against Reginald Carr, because his brother’s lawyers portrayed him as the lead actor in the crime.
• That the judge improperly denied a defense challenge to a juror who had expressed strong views in favor of the death penalty and whom defense lawyers allege answered their questions in a sarcastic manner. He later became the jury foreman.
Kim Parker, chief deputy district attorney in Sedgwick County, countered that Carr could have taken the stand and told his story.
“If Reginald Carr had wanted to take the stand and say all these things, he could have,” Parker said. “He made a strategic choice not to testify.”
Wilson argued, however, that the judge had closed off that option with a ruling that it was inadmissible “third party evidence.”
“Reginald wanted to explain why he possessed it (property stolen from the victims),” she said. “The court’s ruling restricted him to the extent he could not testify.”
On the issue of their joint trial, Wilson argued that Reginald Carr really faced two prosecutors, the state’s lawyer and his brother’s lawyer.
Jonathan’s defense was largely “Well, I’m guilty, but Reginald is more guilty,” Wilson argued.
In the afternoon hearing, Johnson claimed it was Reginald Carr who dragged Jonathan down during the trial.
She said Reginald’s defense painted Jonathan as the guilty one, influencing the jury against her client.
“It’s not proof, it’s not evidence, but it is a very powerful factor in the courtroom,” she said.
In addition, she said, Reginald engaged in courtroom “antics,” turning jurors against both the brothers.
She said Reginald at one point refused to come to court. Another time, he rolled his chair over and touched one of the prosecutors and, unlike Jonathan, he had to wear handcuffs to court.
In the minds of the jurors, “these two were treated as one entity,” she said.
Parker countered that the lawyer’s arguments didn’t change the evidence and that the jury “was instructed over and over” to decide the case on the evidence presented.
On the issue of the challenged juror, Wilson and Johnson both argued that the defense teams should have been allowed to exclude him.
The lawyers said the Carrs wanted to excuse the juror because he expressed strong views in favor of the death penalty and when asked by defense lawyers why that was, he sarcastically answered “Why not?”
Wilson argued that the judge improperly overruled the challenges because the man was one of the last African-Americans in the jury pool and he wanted a racially mixed panel to hear the case against the Carrs, who are black.
District Court Judge Paul Clark, who presided at the trial, died in 2011.
Parker said the juror was qualified and “made clear his civil obligation was important to him.”
And she questioned the defense claim that the man’s later status as jury foreman made him a leader who could have unduly influenced the others to find for the death penalty.
“Sometimes foremans get picked because they were the person in the bathroom,” she said.
Johnson also argued that the trial should have been moved out of Wichita because pretrial publicity turned virtually the whole community against the Carrs.
She said a defense survey had found 96 percent of Wichita-area residents knew of the case and that three-fourths believed the Carrs were guilty before the trial began.
“It’s asking too much of a human being” to set that aside and decide a case solely on the evidence presented in court, she said.