The Wichita Horror
The Hair Clip That Saved a Life
Reginald and Jonathan were charged with 113 crimes, including five counts of capital murder and multiple counts of rape and robbery. They were also charged with animal cruelty.
Judge Paul Clark presided over the trial.
Chief deputy district attorney Kim Parker assisted Nola Foulston in the prosecution.
The lead attorney for Reginald Carr was Jay Greeno who is often recognized by his neat ponytail of gray hair. A public defender for ten years, he has been in private practice since 1994. Val Wachtel was Greeno's co-counsel.
Looking something like an "odd couple," slim and clean shaven Mark Manna and heavyset and bearded Ron Evans were the lawyers for Jonathan Carr.
Prosecution and defense questioned prospective jurors on a variety of issues, including feelings about race, the death penalty, and what they had read and heard about the Wichita Horror. The court excused three people because they had been friends of one or more of the victims. One man was excused because he strongly opposed the death penalty.
Seven men and five women, two blacks and ten whites were impaneled as the jury. The group included an accountant, a machinist, an unemployed woman, an executive, a carpenter, and a nurse.
Much of the testimony was grisly. The most riveting witness was undoubtedly H.G., who was called to the stand early in the trial. She described the ordeal of rape that she and her friends had endured, the way they were robbed at ATMs, and finally the brutal shootings. Her testimony was much as it had been in the preliminary hearing with one vital exception. She identified Reginald Carr as the taller of the attackers and indicated that her previous failure to identify him was due to his having shaved his head and donned glasses.
Amazingly, evidence put on by prosecutor Foulston showed that H.G.'s life had been saved by a hair clip! Experts testified that such a clip had deflected the bullet from her head.
Police Department Crime Scene Investigator Barbara Siwek told the court that H.G.'s dog, Nikki, had been beaten, possibly with a golf club, and then stabbed by an ice pick.
Trauma surgeon Scott Porter testified to the injuries suffered by Ann Walenta and used an anatomical mannequin to show the jury where she was shot. His unavoidably graphic description led to courtroom drama when a 51-year-old juror fainted. Dr. Porter left the stand to attend to the distressed juror. The juror soon regained consciousness but was taken to a hospital and examined. He made a full recovery and went back on the jury.
On cross-examination, Jonathan's attorney, Mark Manna, asked if the distances between shooter and victim indicated that only one person did the killing. The coroner said she could not know that.
Andrew Schreiber took the stand and told the jury how he had been kidnapped, robbed, and then left in a field. He identified Reginald Carr as one of the two men who abducted him but could not identify Jonathan Carr. Under cross-examination, Schreiber admitted that he had been unable to identify either brother from a photo lineup soon after the events.
The prosecutors put on many exhibits and called numerous witnesses to physically link the Carrs to the crimes.
They filled the courtroom with items belonging to the victims that were discovered in the apartment of Reginald Carr. Among them were two TVs including a big-screen Sony, a VCR, a CD player, and a 120-piece tool set still in its package. Other stolen goods displayed were three remote controls, a cordless phone, power cords, drinking glasses, dress shoes, jackets, and coats. Relatives and friends of the victims testified that property displayed as that of the victims had belonged to them.
More technical evidence tied the brothers to the crimes.
Forensic investigator Gary Miller, a florid man with a mustache and thinning hair, matched a shoe imprint on a windshield sunshade recovered from the
Sidney Schueler, a DNA expert for the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, testified that Jonathan Carr's DNA was found in a semen spot on the carpet of the Birchwood home and on swabs taken from H.G. He said that blood spots found on Reginald's clothing were originally from Heather Muller.
Reginald Carr's lawyers suggested the drops could have gotten there by his having rubbed against someone else — like Jonathan.
Women who had known and cared about the Carrs took the stand against them.
Tronda Adams testified she met Reginald and Jonathan early the evening of
Reginald's girlfriend, Stephanie Donley, testified that she believed neither Reginald nor Jonathan was employed but that Reginald was carrying large amounts of cash in early December 2000. He explained his sudden fortune by saying his pit bull was winning fights. She said she allowed the Carr brothers to borrow her Toyota Camry at about 5:30 p.m. Dec. 14th and that they brought it back about twelve hours later. Her testimony connected Reginald to possessions stolen from the victims when she said he moved several items into her home which were identified as belonging to them.
The saddest part of her testimony linked Reginald and H. G. in a sickeningly intimate way. A nurse, Donley said she recognized a sexually transmitted disease, genital warts, on her boyfriend's private parts early in their relationship. A medical expert would later testify that H. G. had come down with genital warts.