David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2016
The Supreme Court restored death sentences Wednesday for three Kansas murderers by an 8-1 vote, undercutting predictions by some that a majority of the justices is ready to strike down capital punishment nationwide.
Speaking in court, Justice Antonin Scalia described the “notorious Wichita Massacre” in which two brothers broke into a home, tortured five young men and women and then took them to a snowy field where they were “shot in the back of the head, execution-style.”
Amazingly, one young woman survived when a hair clip deflected a bullet, and she later testified against Reginald and Jonathan Carr. A jury convicted the pair of the four murders and sentenced them to death.
The Kansas Supreme Court reversed both death sentences as well as another for Sidney Gleason, a paroled inmate who participated in the robbing and killing of an elderly man over $35 and a box of cigarettes. Gleason then murdered two others who knew about that killing.
The state justices said the jurors may have been confused about whether they had to agree on a single reason for extending mercy to the killers.
State prosecutors appealed, and the justices with near unanimity reversed the state court’s judgments.