Was this Kansas killing spree a brotherly affair?
By Matt Bean
(Court TV) -- Before the twisted sexual games and the bloody crescendo of violence that characterized the last day of their week-plus killing spree, the Carr brothers of Wichita, Kansas, were just out for money, police allege.
But by the time their rampage came to a halt, police claim, stealing money was the least of their crimes: Six victims had been shot, five fatally, and another was assaulted.
In a trial expected to begin Monday in Sedgwick County prosecutors will attempt to stitch together eight bloody days in the lives of brothers Reginald Carr Jr., 23, and Jonathan Carr, 20. Their star witness will be the only surviving victim of their most brutal attack who was raped, shot and run over by a car.
The Carrs are facing a total of 113 charges in connection with their rampage, known locally as the "Wichita Horror," which spanned December 7 to December 14, 2000. If convicted, the brothers could face the death penalty.
At around 11 p.m. on December 7, Andrew Schreiber, a one-time Wichita State University baseball player who was then 25, was at the Kum & Go convenience store when he crossed paths with the brothers. They allegedly abducted him, took him to an ATM where they forced him to withdraw $800 and then drove out near an airport. There, they allegedly shot out the tires on Schreiber's car and sped away in another vehicle, leaving Schreiber stranded on a dirt road.
Prosecutors say that the Carrs laid low the next few days, but resumed their crime spree on December 11. Around 5:30 that evening, 55-year-old cellist Ann Walenta was driving to her house when a light sedan was seen following her. That night, Walenta attended orchestra practice with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra.
When she left to return home at around 9:30 p.m., the sedan reappeared. The car followed her home, and when she arrived 15 minutes later, one of the brothers allegedly approached her car with a gun. Walenta tried to drive away, but was shot. She died January 2, 2001.
Three days later, a group of twentysomethings gathered at the Wichita apartment of Brad Heyka, 27, Aaron Sander, 29 and Jason Befort, 26. Around 8 p.m. on December 14, Heather Muller and a female friend, both 25, arrived at the apartment. Befort, a science teacher at a local high school, had plans to propose to the unnamed female, also a teacher who taught at a nearby elementary school.
Around 11 p.m., the gathering plunged into chaos. Prosecutors claim the Carrs burst into the apartment, guns in hand. They allegedly ordered the five to strip and forced them into a closet. After the two women were raped by the assailants, all five were ordered to participate in a twisted orgy with each other.
Over the next two hours, each of the five victims were driven separately to nearby ATMs and withdrew a total of $1,600 in cash.
At 2 a.m., according to prosecutors, the Carrs left the apartment, stuffing the three men in the trunk of Sander's car. Prosecutors say that one of brothers drove with Mueller was seated in the passenger seat, while the other brother allegedly took the unnamed female with him in Befort's silver Dodge pickup.
Their destination was a soccer complex nearby. When they arrived, the Carrs allegedly forced the three men to kneel in front of the car, and brought the women to another part of the field and forced them, too, to kneel on the ground. All five were shot in the head.
As the Carrs allegedly peeled away from the field, one of them tore over the victims with the car. But despite being shot in the head and trampled, one female -- only referred to by her initials "H.G." to protect her anonymity -- survived.
The survivor tended to Befort, her boyfriend, and then made her way to a nearby house to call for help. Meanwhile, the Carrs allegedly returned to the victim's apartment, shot the survivor's dog and slipped a big-screen television out the door and into a waiting pickup.
Victim testimony could prove to be the strongest element of the state's case. The survivor of the rampage is expected to identify the brothers as the rampaging duo that burst into the apartment on December 14, and carjacking victim Andrew Schreiber will testify about being abducted in front of the convenience store on the first day of the rampage eight days earlier.
But many of the crimes the brothers are charged with cannot be attested to by the eyewitnesses. The murder of Ann Walenta, for example, will need to be constructed on circumstantial evidence.
Physical evidence will buttress the prosecution's case. When Reginald Carr was arrested, he had Heather Muller's watch in his pocket, along with Jason Befort's credit card and nearly $1,000 in his pockets. Jonathan Carr's leather jacket was found with a diamond ring that was reportedly similar to the one Befort had bought for his girlfriend.
Faced with damaging eyewitness testimony and physical evidence that places the brothers at the scene, defense lawyers are expected to offer prosecutors a moving target.
"We're going to be pointing fingers at each other a lot," Jay Greeno, one of Reginald Carr's lawyers, told the Associated Press.
Though prosecutors have been able to link a gun to three shootings, the weapon hasn't been linked to either of the brothers.
Defense attorneys fought hard to relocate the trial to another venue, arguing that it would be difficult to empanel an impartial jury with the widespread coverage of the killing spree in Wichita. Their request was denied, however, sparking the longest jury selection process in county history.
Avoidable hate crimes?
A slew of related issues have surfaced in the past two years as the prosecution pieced together its case.
In 2001, the Kansas prison system came under fire when it was revealed Reginald Carr should have been in prison at the time of the murders, but was released early because of the math mistakes of two parole officers.
Also, because the Carr brothers are black and all of their victims white, many expected the district attorney's office to slap them with hate crime charges. The D.A. declined to do so, however, sparking allegations of racial bias.