TOPEKA – (August 8, 2014) – The State of Kansas will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review three recent Kansas Supreme Court decisions that overturned death sentences imposed on two convicted murderers in Wichita and one in Great Bend, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said today.
“We are not convinced that the Kansas court’s application of federal constitutional requirements is correct, so we are requesting review of all three cases by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Schmidt said. “In each case, we doubt the U.S. Constitution compelled the Kansas court to set aside the death sentences that were recommended by juries of the defendants’ peers.”
On July 18, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the capital murder conviction of Sidney Gleason but vacated Gleason’s death sentence. One week later, on July 25, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld a single capital murder conviction each for Reginald and Jonathan Carr but similarly vacated both of their death sentences.
By law, the attorney general’s office represents Kansas on matters before the U.S. Supreme Court. Schmidt said his office is working closely with Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett on the two Carr appeals. The Gleason appeal is being handled solely by the attorney general’s office, which also prosecuted the case in the trial court.
“On behalf of the victims and their families, I believe it is incumbent on the state to seek review of these decisions to ensure every effort has been made to preserve the jury’s verdict and uphold justice for the citizens of Kansas.” Bennett said. “With Attorney General Schmidt, I look forward to the opportunity to bring these cases to this nation’s highest court.”
The attorney general today formally notified the Kansas Supreme Court of his decision to appeal, putting further proceedings in all three cases on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to review the cases. Last term, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear five percent of requests for review filed by state attorneys general.
A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court whether to hear the state’s appeal in any or all these three cases could come later this year.