Kansas High Court Rules Death Penalty Unconstitutional

Ron Sylvester and Steve Painter, The Wichita Eagle, Dec. 17

TOPEKA—The Kansas death penalty law is unconstitutional because it favors the state over defendant, the state’s Supreme Court ruled today.

In a 4-3 decision, the state called into question the validity of death sentences imposed since 1994. The ruling could affect the recent death sentences handed to Wichita convicts Jonathan and Reginald Carr, Douglas Belt and Kansas City’s John Robinson.

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“This is an enormously significant decision that, unless overturned by the United States Supreme Court, will invalidate every death sentence given in Kansas,” Foulston said in a prepared statement.

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The dissenting justices wrote that today’s ruling would wipe out the death penalty in other cases, including Reginald and Jonathan Carr, convicted of killing five people in Wichita in December 2000; Douglas Belt, sentenced to death last month for killing Lucille Gallegos in Wichita; and John Robinson, convicted in Johnson County of killing two women and stuffing their bodies in barrels.

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