The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out a ruling that invalidated the death sentences of Jonathan and Reginald Carr, two brothers responsible for a crime spree that came to be known at the Wichita Massacre.
"These two men broke into a house in which there were three men and two women," Justice Antonin Scalia said during case proceedings in October, The Huffington Post reported
"They ordered the five to remove their clothes, forced them into a closet. Over the course of three hours, they demanded that the two women perform various sexual acts on one another. They demanded at gunpoint that each of the three men have sexual intercourse with both women."
Ultimately, all were taken to a snow-covered soccer field and shot in the head. One woman survived her gunshot wound after the bullet was deflected by a plastic hair clip.
Scalia was among the 8-1 majority that voted to throw out a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court that invalidated the Carrs' death sentences on procedural grounds (as well as the death penalty for a man named Sidney Gleason, who was convicted in a separate case).
According to The Associated Press
, "The state court said juries in both cases should have been told that evidence of the men's troubled childhoods and other factors weighing against a death sentence did not have to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The lower court also had ruled that the Carr brothers should have had separate sentencing hearings instead of a joint one."
"Only the most extravagant speculation would lead one to conclude that the supposedly prejudicial evidence introduced by one brother rendered the sentencing proceeding fundamentally unfair to the other," Scalia said in his ruling.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the lone dissenter, basing her ruling on states' rights. She didn't express any sympathy for the convicted criminals, or weigh in on the death penalty generally.
"I worry that cases like these prevent States from serving as necessary laboratories for experimenting with how best to guarantee defendants a fair trial," she wrote.
Kansas has not executed anyone in 50 years, and the Carr brothers are now back in the hands of the state. It remains to be seen if they will ultimately receive mercy.
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