Wichita Killings Capital Case

Jonathan and Reginald Carr

The Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the death sentences for a pair of brothers convicted of the heinous killing of four people in Wichita in 2000 has drawn sharp criticism in online forums.

According to the Associated Press, the court on July 25 ruled 6-1 to overturn the death sentences of Jonathan and Reginald Carr, and also vacated three of four capital murder convictions against each brother; one remaining murder conviction for each was upheld.

Most commenters expressed outrage at the court’s decision to remove the brothers out of the execution line, while others expressed outrage at the justice system at large. Many, apparently also disappointed at the absence of justice for the shocking crimes the brothers committed, relied on their faith and looked for justice in a higher power. Given the decade and a half since the crimes, this new development marked the first time some readers had heard about the case, causing them to express shock and disgust. Reaction to the state court’s decision has been, in general, harsh across social media, both locally and nationwide.

The charges stemmed from a week-long crime spree in Wichita, capped by the brothers breaking into a home where five friends were staying, and forcing them to perform sex acts and withdraw money from an ATM before shooting each in the head execution-style in a local soccer field. Four of the victims died; the fifth survived.

In its decision, the court found procedural problems with the sentencing phase of the original case, as well as flaws in the judge’s instructions to jurors at the time.

“This is such a travesty, especially for the woman who survived and testified,” AFRO reader Denise Rich wrote on Facebook. “A slap in her face.”

A man who claimed to have a personal connection to the Carr brothers provided another comment.

“I went to high school with these two,” Mike Conley wrote on the AFRO’s Facebook page. “No one who knew them was surprised when we’d heard what they’d done. They were worthless even back then.”

Others apparently disappointed by the pair’s escape from the executioner pointed out flaws in Kansas’ capital punishment statues, saying it offers criminals too many loopholes.

“It’s a bad law,” Wichita Eagle reader Fred Warren wrote in comments below that newspaper’s July 25 story about the case. “It has never been used for any execution on anyone that has been sentenced under it in Kansas. It allows for too many appeals and too many opt-out exclusions. Don’t blame the Supreme Court, blame a poorly written law.”

The Carrs will return to Sedgewick County, Kansas court for further proceedings, re-opening a painful chapter in that community’s history.

“All we can do now is pray that they both get the sentence that they deserve when they are re-sentenced,” Eagle reader Jeremy Wheeler wrote.

An AFRO Facebook follower, Vanessa Lockhart, appeared to sum it up when she commented: “we need our Black men to be out there being strong and positive not lowlife criminals. I see these pics and mourn for what is lost.”