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Quadruple homicide victims' families oppose retention of judges who overturned death sentences

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WICHITA, Kansas — Relatives of four people who were fatally shot 14 years ago in a Wichita soccer field have formed an organization opposing the retention of two of the Kansas Supreme Court justices who overturned the killers' death sentences.

Kansans for Justice wants voters to remove Lee Johnson and Eric Rosen from the court in November, The Wichita Eagle (http://bit.ly/ZUyPLI) reports. The group believes the court botched Jonathan and Reginald Carr's appeal when it overturned the brother's death sentences after finding they should have been allowed separate sentencing hearings. The court also struck down three of each man's four capital murder convictions.

The Carr brothers still face life sentences for the lone capital murder conviction.

The attack that culminated in the December 2000 deaths of 29-year-old Aaron Sander, 27-year-old Brad Heyka, 26-year-old Jason Befort, and Heather Muller, began when the brothers broke into a Wichita home, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said the armed intruders forced the five people there to have sex with each other and later to withdraw money from ATMs. Two women were raped repeatedly before all five were taken to the soccer field and shot. Four of the people died. One woman survived a gunshot wound to the head.

Kansas Supreme Court justices stand for retention every six years. Johnson and Rosen are the only court members up for retention this year.

"Our family was devastated by the murderous crime spree of the Carr brothers," Befort's brother Mark Befort said in a written statement. "We had to re-live the hideous acts when the Carr brothers were tried two years later.

"Now the Kansas Supreme Court has voted to either eliminate these verdicts or force all of the family members and surviving victims to have to once again re-live those crimes in court, or see these guilty verdicts erased. This is an outrage and we will be fighting from now through November 4 to get Kansans to understand the injustice the Kansas Supreme Court is creating."

Rosen, one of the justices, said Friday: "I have been recognized by victims and their families, media covering criminal proceedings, and a variety of organizations, including a former attorney general, for my compassion and sensitivity toward crime victims. At the same time, my colleagues and I have a legal and ethical duty to uphold the constitution and the laws of the state of Kansas, which sometimes are at odds with victims' or their families' wishes."


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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