Tuesday, March 31, 2015

SCOTUS to take up two death penalty sentencing issues from Kansas

The United States Supreme Court will review two Kansas Supreme Court decisions that overturned the death sentences of three convicted killers, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal.
The court agreed to consider the Kansas rulings involving brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, and another case involving Sidney Gleason. All three were convicted of capital murder.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the justices to weigh in on the Kansas court’s ruling in the cases this past summer.
The Carrs shot and killed four people execution style in December 2000 in Wichita and were sentenced to death. The Kansas Supreme Court upheld a capital murder conviction against both, but ruled the two should have received separate penalty phase trials in which they received the death penalty
Gleason, a former Topeka resident, was convicted in the 2004 murders of two people in Great Bend. At the time of the murders he was on parole after a conviction for attempted voluntary manslaughter. The Kansas high court upheld his capital murder conviction, but in a divided decision cited the Barton County district court’s failure to give a jury instruction on mitigating circumstances as its reason for vacating Gleason’s death sentence.
Schmidt argued in asking for a U.S. Supreme Court review that the state court’s ruling in Carr effectively abolished joint death penalty proceedings. In addition, the court will weigh in on the instructions given to the jury during the sentencing portion.
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