By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Death sentence in 2004 Great Bend murders overturned
Placeholder Image

TOPEKA (AP) — Kansas’ highest court Friday overturned the death sentence of a man convicted of capital murder in connection with the killings a decade ago of a Great Bend woman and her boyfriend after she’d witnessed a robbery.
The state Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Sidney Gleason in Barton County District Court. A 5-2 majority concluded that the presiding trial judge gave flawed instructions to jurors before they considered whether he should be sentenced to lethal injection for the February 2004 murders of Miki Martinez and boyfriend Darren Wornkey.
The justices only narrowly upheld Gleason’s convictions for capital murder and other crimes. The key issue was whether Gleason should receive a new trial because a cousin involved in the crimes reneged on a deal to testify against Gleason to escape a death sentence. A 4-3 majority ruled that Gleason’s right to a fair trial wasn’t violated when the judge had earlier testimony from the cousin read in court after declaring him unavailable as a witness.
A spokesman for Attorney General Derek Schmidt said his office is reviewing the decision and will respond next week.
Sarah Ellen Johnson, a capital appellate defender representing Gleason, said, “Obviously, we’re pleased about the death sentence being vacated.”
Gleason had been among eight men facing execution in Kansas. The state hasn’t executed anyone since reinstating capital punishment in 1994 and the justices have yet to clear the way for any lethal injections.
Prosecutors said Gleason and his cousin, Damien Thompson, were part of a group that robbed and stabbed a 76-year-old man in his Great Bend home in February 2004. Gleason and Thompson were accused of plotting to kill Martinez because she’d been present and they worried about what she would tell police. Authorities said they also planned to murder Wornkey if he got in the way.
Gleason shot Workney several times as he sat in a Jeep outside a home he shared with Martinez, prosecutors said, and they drove Martinez out of town, where Thompson strangled and shot her as Gleason watched. Thompson later agreed to testify against Gleason and was sentenced to life in prison, with no chance of parole for 25 years. But he refused to testify at Gleason’s trial.