Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Wichita Horror

New Chapter - A Turn of Events



In March 2004 the courts made a ruling on the wrongful death lawsuit launched by the families of the victims. The families claimed that the "state was negligent because paperwork error allowed Reginald Carr to get out of prison early," thus paving the way for him and his brother to go on a deadly killing spree, Jeanene Kiesling said in a Wichita, Kansas's KAKE-TV article. It was further reported that the judge handling the case agreed with the families that the state did not do all it could for the victims and suggested that "the only issue left for a jury to decide is what, if any, damages the state should pay." It was believed that the families stood a chance at receiving up to $500,000 each, totaling around $1.5 million.

Reginald Carr
Reginald Carr

After six months, the state reached a settlement, deciding to pay out a total of $1.7 million to the relatives of the victims. The Associated Press reported in an October 2004 article that three of the families were to share one and a quarter-million dollars in damages, whereas the fourth family would receive $450,000. The compensation would never lessen the excruciating emotional pain that the families endured on a daily basis but it was a gesture that signified that the state made a tragic mistake.

Kansas Supreme Court
Kansas Supreme Court

The following December, the families of the victims faced the unexpected. They learned that the Kansas Supreme Court found that the state's death penalty statute was unconstitutional. Matthew Simon of KAKE News said that the law was found to be unfair to defendants because even "if jurors considering aggravating and mitigating circumstances during sentencing believe arguments on both sides to be equal," the prosecution is still "considered the winner."

Jonathan Carr
Jonathan Carr

Even though the decision is being appealed, there is a significant chance that Kansas ' most infamous killers, including the Carr brothers, will eventually escape the death penalty and instead remain behind bars for the rest of their lives. Moreover, Tony Rizo and David Klepper claimed in their article for the Tribune News Service that the reversal of the death penalty "could prevent prosecutors from seeking death sentences in pending capital murder cases..." The recognition of yet another state error has angered some of the victims' families and has caused many to question the competence of the Kansas legal system.

 

 

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