Sidney Gleason was in the news again this week. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected his latest appeal of his death penalty sentence.
It’s been 13 years since Gleason and his cousin, Damien Charles Thompson, murdered two Great Bend residents, Mikiala “Miki” Martinez and Darren Wornkey.
There have been other murders in Barton County but only one killer sits on death row. Thompson, now 38, is working in a job at Hutchinson Correctional Facility, where he is incarcerated and where his custody level is low-medium. His earliest possible release date is 2029.
Other murderers remain in custody and a few have been released. Their lives go on, while the lives they took do not.
Jeffery Wade Chapman, who killed Damon Galyardt in 2011, is in maximum security at El Dorado Correctional Facility and his earliest possible release date is in 2037.
Adam Longoria, 43, who killed 14-year-old Alicia DeBolt in 2010, is under special management at Lansing Correctional Facility and there is no “earliest possible release date” for him.
Robin Branson, 59, who killed Margaret A. Krom and Sarah Wittig in robberies less than a week apart in 1982, is at El Dorado in low medium custody and his earliest possible release date is June 1, 2018. He has been eligible for parole hearings since 2008, but the Prisoner Review Board has not found him suitable for release, probably because of the nature of his crime.
The best thing that has come from Kansas having the death penalty was that Thompson was willing to testify against Gleason and lead authorities to the body of Miki Martinez in exchange for the state not seeking the death penalty against him.
But a state death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, and taking life should not be the part of anyone’s job description.
The estimated average cost of defending a death penalty case is $1 million, vs. $130,000 defense costs for a life sentence, according to Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty. Either way, it will not lessen the pain of the victims’ loved ones.