Wednesday, November 6, 2002

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) The mother of two brothers convicted of killing five persons pleaded with jurors yesterday to spare the men’s lives, saying her children are “good” and that what they did two years ago was a horrible mistake.

“I know other families out there are probably hating me to death. I am sorry for them, but spare my children. I love them just as much as you would love your children. I believe there is good in them. There is just something went wrong along the way,” Janice Harding testified.

Mrs. Harding said her job in Dodge City has kept her from attending most of her sons’ trial.

“I don’t know what went wrong, but I love you I love you both,” she told her sons from the witness stand. “And I am sorry for everything that happened. If I did something wrong, I am sorry. I’d just like to say I am sorry to everybody. I don’t know if this is my fault, if it was, I am just sorry. Sorry.”

Defense attorneys for Reginald and Jonathan Carr asked jurors yesterday to show their clients mercy in sentencing them, blaming the brothers’ troubled childhood and dysfunctional family for their problems.

“We accept your verdict. We understand it. We respect what you have done in this case,” Jay Greeno, an attorney for Reginald Carr, said as the penalty phase of the brothers’ capital murder trial began.

The Carrs were convicted Monday on charges stemming from a Wichita crime spree in December 2000 that left five persons dead, four of them shot execution-style in the back of the head as they knelt side-by-side in a snow-covered soccer field.

Jurors returned capital murder verdicts in the deaths of Aaron Sander, 29, Brad Heyka, 27, Jason Befort, 26; and Heather Muller, 25. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for those four murders.

“I ask you to extend mercy to Reginald Carr that he did not extend to those four young individuals,” Mr. Greeno said to jurors.

Mr. Befort’s girlfriend was shot in the head but survived and was among the 97 witnesses testifying at a trial that lasted nearly two months.

The Carrs were also convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting of Ann Walenta four days before the quadruple murder. Miss Walenta later died.

District Attorney Nola Foulston asked jurors yesterday to sentence the brothers to death for the four killings on Dec. 15, 2000. She rested her case without calling any more witnesses than those who testified earlier in the guilt phase of the trial.

“We know from the evidence they committed these crimes because they wanted to, because they chose to,” Miss Foulston said.

She also argued the crimes were premeditated and that the brothers wanted “to leave no person behind to say what heinous, cruel things happened to them before they were executed.”

Mr. Greeno told jurors yesterday that he would present a case showing Reginald Carr, 24, was brain damaged, and the things that happened to him in childhood affected his development. The attorney plans to put family members and doctors on the stand to testify on Reginald Carr’s behalf.

Defense attorney Ron Evans told jurors his client, Jonathan Carr, 22, had no serious involvement with the law before the crime spree. He said jurors need to know there is some good in Jonathan Carr.

“There is no explanation for something like this. What could be the explanation for something like this?” Mr. Evans said.

He said he would put witnesses on the stand to testify that Jonathan Carr tried to kill himself when he was 7 years old and again when he was 16 and that his brother, Reginald, went to prison.

“This was a very dysfunctional family they fought, they drank, they drugged in front of the kids,” Mr. Evans said.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide