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U.S. Supreme Court to hear appeal in Barton County murders
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Sidney Gleason

 TOPEKA — The vacating of the death penalty for the man convicted in a pair of 2004 Barton County murders will be argued before the  U.S. Supreme Court which it next convenes in October, according to information on the high court’s website.

The court issued an order Monday noting it will hear oral arguments in three cases in which the Kansas Supreme Court set aside the death penalty for three men convicted of capital murder, including one involved in the Barton County killings, sometime during that term.

The Kansas Supreme Court in 2014 upheld the capital murder convictions but vacated the death sentences of former Topekan Sidney Gleason and Wichita brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr. 

Gleason was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in 2006 for the 2004 shooting deaths of Mikiala “Miki” Martinez and Darren Wornkey in Barton County. At the time of the murders, Gleason was on parole following a conviction of attempted voluntary manslaughter.

Gleason, who was from Lyons at the time, faced lethal injection for the February 2004 killings of Martinez and Wornkey. Prosecutors said Martinez witnessed Gleason’s participation in the robbery of a 76-year-old man, and Gleason and Thompson worried about what she might tell police. 

Authorities also said they also planned to kill her boyfriend if he got in the way. The killings took place a matter of days after the robbery.

Workney was shot while he sat in his Jeep outside his home. Martinez was taken to a rural area and strangled and shot.

Thompson avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to Martinez’s murder, receiving a life sentence.

In July 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld Gleason’s convictions, but reversed his death sentence.

The Carr brothers were sentenced to death for four killings, which occurred in Wichita in December 2000 and followed dozens of other crimes, including robbery and rape.

The Carrs were convicted following a December 2000 crime spree involving multiple murders and various sex crimes. They were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the execution-style murder of four people in an east Wichita soccer field following a home invasion. 

In July 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld one conviction of capital murder with respect to both Jonathan and Reginald, but reversed their death sentences.

The state then appealed the decision to overturn the death sentences to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed this past March to hear all three appeals. The issues the U.S. Supreme Court will consider include jury instruction and separate sentencing hearings.

“We have carefully analyzed the opinions of the Kansas Supreme Court and we do not believe they have correctly applied the U.S. Constitution,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in March. “I am encouraged the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the cases.”