We are lifelong Kansans and we proudly call Pratt our hometown. In December of 2000 our brother, Jason Befort, was brutally murdered by Jonathan and Reginald Carr. Jason was only 26, and was a beloved public school teacher for Augusta schools where he loved to coach sports. In 2002, the Carr brothers were found guilty and sentenced to death by a jury of their peers. 16 years later we are still at the first step in the appeal process. The Kansas Supreme Court approved dozens of continuances to the Carrs’ lawyers and ultimately in 2014 – shocking the entire state– overturned the death sentences of the brothers based on technicalities.
Two years later The United States Supreme Court reversed the Kansas Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision and restored the death sentences of the Carr brothers. Unfortunately, the fight for justice continues as our case is back in the hands of the Kansas Supreme Court pending further appeals by the Carr brothers.
What many do not know is we are not the only families hurting; in fact, this Kansas Supreme Court has overturned the sentences of every death penalty case until this year where they final upheld a sentence. Other cases include the Greenwood County Sheriff who was killed in the line of duty by a drug dealer who had his death sentence and conviction overturned, another is a mother and her one-year-old child who were brutally murdered by Michael Lee Marsh whose death sentence was overturned, and the family of a young girl who was raped by an adult male when she was only 13 years old whose life sentence in prison was thrown out by this Kansas Supreme Court just this September.
The justices and their supporters are spreading false statements about our motives. One falsehood is our cause will help the governor gain control of the court. That could not be further from the truth! We do not support Governor Brownback – this is merely a scare tactic and does not give Kansas voters the full process. A nine-member commission, the majority of which are lawyers picked by the Kansas Bar, interview and choose 3 finalists, of which the the governor chooses one of those finalists for the justice position. We heard from Supreme Court Justice Marla Luckert herself that the process by which the justices are chosen is fair and that the governor does not have control of that process.
Another false statement is that we must keep these justices to protect our education system. Education is very important to all of our families. We have been strong proponents and faithful supporters of our public-school district. My father-in-law dug the first scoops of dirt to build our school and served on the school board. My children attended this public school, my brother-in-law now serves on the school board, my daughter-in-law is a teacher, and my wife serves as President of our school foundation. Had the Supreme Court been following the law instead of overturning death penalty sentences that money could have been better spent on our children’s education. Instead, our hard-earned tax dollars are being spent on attorneys to defend these monsters. We would never promote anything that would hurt education.
Our mission is to help Kansans become aware of the misuse of the Court’s power. If one of these victims were your child, your sister, your spouse, how would you vote on the justices? Please vote no on the retention of Kansas Supreme Court Justices Carol Beier, Dan Biles, Lawton Nuss, and Marla Luckert, who are directly responsible for these terrible decisions. Kansans deserve better.
Mark and Lisa Befort