Posted on October 28, 2014

How the ‘Wichita Massacre’ Became a Factor in the Kansas Gov’s Race

Ryan Lovelace, National Review, October 22, 2014

One of the most horrendous crimes in Kansas’s history has become an issue in the state’s hard-fought gubernatorial race. Jonathan and Reginald Carr received death sentences from the state more than a decade ago for a crime spree that involved rape, robbery, and murder, and culminated in the “Wichita Massacre” killings of four people and a dog. When the Kansas supreme court overturned the brothers’ death sentences in a 6–1 decision earlier this summer, the reprieve drew the ire of Republican governor Sam Brownback, who’s now running for reelection.

At a debate on Tuesday, Brownback cited the case as an example of the importance of judicial appointments. “[Democratic gubernatorial candidate] Paul Davis wants to continue to appoint liberal judges to that court; I want to appoint judges who will interpret the law, not rewrite it as they choose to see it to be,” Brownback said. “One of the supreme-court justices [involved in the case] even hosted a fundraiser for Paul Davis in her home. I find that wrong. It’s something that shouldn’t happen.”

That fundraiser was held at the home of Justice Carol Beier, who was appointed to the court in 2003 by former Democratic governor Kathleen Sebelius. Beier was actually the lone dissent from the Carr brothers’ death sentences, but only because she thought the death-penalty reprieve didn’t go far enough–she wanted a reversal of their convictions.

Brownback released an ad before Tuesday’s debate hitting Davis for siding with the liberal justices: