Tags: 'Wichita | Massacre' | Brothers | Sentenced | Death

'Wichita Massacre' Brothers Sentenced to Death

Friday, 15 November 2002 12:00 AM

Lawyers for Reginald and Jonathan Carr sought a life sentence for the two, but failed in their attempt to spare the Carrs from the death penalty.

In what has been dubbed the "Wichita Massacre," the brothers, who are black, were found guilty Thursday of robbing and murdering four white people almost two years ago. The Carrs are also linked to a fifth murder.

After the sentencing, the two were turned over to the Kansas Department of Corrections. Death sentences in Kansas trigger automatic appeals, which can take years to settle.

Since Kansas reinstated the death penalty in 1994, the state has not executed a single person.

Fox News Channel, which covered the sentencing on live television, reported both Carr brothers showed no emotion when Judge Paul Clark announced the sentencing.

The judge also sentenced both to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 20 years in the death of another woman. Reginald also was sentenced to 47 years in prison for his conviction on other crimes, and Jonathan was sentenced to 41 years on other convictions.

The woman who survived the Dec. 15, 2000, shooting that left her four friends dead told the court, "The sentence imposed on them will be a much kinder sentence than they imposed on me, my friends, and family."

When the jury delivered its verdict Thursday, Mark Befort, a brother of one of the victims, sarcastically wished Reginald Carr a "happy birthday," followed by an expletive, as he was being led away. Carr's response was laced with profanity.

Carr's left hand was heavily bandaged. Authorities said he broke it Thursday morning while defending himself when a fellow prisoner attacked him in a holding area.

Some residents in the Wichita area say the murders would have been prosecuted as "hate crimes" had the skin color of the gunmen and their victims been reversed.

However, Sedgwick County, Kan., District Attorney Nola Foulston said she would not charge the suspects with committing "hate crimes" because she believed the murders were motivated by robbery and not racial hatred.

The Carr brothers were charged with multiple counts of murder, robbery, rape and other crimes in a rampage that began Dec. 7, 2000 when they kidnapped a 23-year-old man from a Wichita convenience store and robbed him.

Several days later, according to prosecutors, the Carrs shot a female outside her Wichita home. She died several days later from her injuries.

The Carrs then broke into the home of three young men who were hosting two female guests. Later that night, prosecutors said the Carrs drove the five people to a deserted soccer field, forced them to kneel in the snow and shot each of them in the back of the head.

Prosecutors said the brothers then drove a truck over the four dead bodies.

The surviving female, whose name was not released, testified that she ran naked for more than a mile in freezing temperatures to the nearest house to get help. She also testified that a plastic hair clip deflected the bullet and prevented it from entering her skull.

She identified Jonathan and Reginald Carr as the armed intruders who attacked her.

Her four friends who died were identified as Jason Befort, a high school teacher; Brad Heyka, a director of finance with a financial services company; Heather Muller, a preschool teacher; and Aaron Sandler, a former financial analyst who had been studying to become a priest.

The trial sparked debate within the Wichita citizenry.

"If this had been two white males accused of killing four black individuals, the media would be on a feeding frenzy and every satellite news organization would be in Wichita doing live reports," said Trent Hungate of Wichita in a recent letter to the Wichita Eagle newspaper.

The Wichita Eagle itself, in a recent editorial, wrote "reliving horrible crime is hard for the community.

"The randomness of the attacks was especially chilling. It could have been anyone. But we go on with our work, hold our loved ones a little closer, and face down our fears as best we can. The survivors are showing us how," the editorial concluded.

Even Mayor Bob Knight, who has made improving race relations in Wichita a goal of his administration, said recently that regardless of race and ethnicity what occurred could be described as "raw, brutal and evil." Knight generally opposes capital punishment.

"You have innocent people tortured, killed, humiliated by someone who is little more than an animal.

"I'm not looking at it as a black-and-white issue," Knight said. "I am not a big fan of capital punishment, but if anything deserves people losing their lives, it is this kind of heinous crime."


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Lawyers for Reginald and Jonathan Carr sought a life sentence for the two, but failed in their attempt to spare the Carrs from the death penalty. In what has been dubbed the "Wichita Massacre," the brothers, who are black, were found guilty Thursday of robbing and...
Friday, 15 November 2002 12:00 AM
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