Wichita, Kansas – Kyler Carriker faces trial for felony murder under the pretense that he told a former classmate he ran into where he could buy marijuana.
On April 17th, 2013, Kyler and a friend had finished work and were headed down to the spillway to fish. They were stopped by a train where they ran into Kyler’s former classmate. Kyler was asked if he could find any “smoke”, meaning marijuana. Kyler said he could try, so they exchanged telephone numbers.
What Kyler didn’t know was that his old friend from school had since become an active gang member. The gang member contacted Kyler by telephone, and Kyler called a friend, Kyle Belts, who called another friend, Ronald Betts, and the deal was arranged for Kyler’s former classmate to purchase marijuana from Ronald.
Kyler agreed to meet his former classmate at Kyle Belts’ home. However, the former classmate arrived with several other gang members, and later testified in court to the fact that the plan was to rob Kyler, Kyle, and Ronald.
Within 60 seconds of entering the home, one of the gang members opened fire, shooting Kyler first and killing Ron Betts, and attempting to kill Kyle Belts and his girlfriend Kelly Touchton.
After leaving the home, the shooter bragged to the other gang members, saying that he had “killed them all”.
Ronald Betts, the person who had the marijuana for sale, and who was fatally shot in the robbery, was the brother of former state senator Donald Betts.
Kyler was charged with first degree felony murder because marijuana related offenses were added to the list of inherently dangerous felonies (crimes where death is most likely to occur).
Furthermore, the law was amended on July 1, 2013, to include people acting as agents in a drug transaction (middlemen), and that law was applied retroactively in Kyler’s case.
If found guilty, Kyler faces a mandatory 20 year minimum sentence, without the possibility of parole. Most of the gang members who planned and committed the robbery that resulted in Ronald Betts’ death were granted significantly lesser sentences in exchange for their testimony against the shooter.
Kyler was not offered a plea deal, because he was not involved in the robbery, and his testimony, as a victim in the case, was considered less valuable.
This is not justice.
Commonsense would dictate that Betts’ death was the result of the robbery, and not the marijuana deal, but the court has ruled that Kyler’s attorney cannot use this as a defense, despite the ruling of State v. Beach, which dictates that an extraordinary intervening event [the robbery] can be presented as the cause of death.
The court has also ruled in favor of prosecutor Trinity Muth’s motion in limine to suppress all information pertaining to the robbers’ gang affiliations, so the jury will not hear that Kyler was not in a gang, while the robbers were all documented gang members.
A motion in limine contradicts the notion that witnesses in court present juries with the “truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”.
Our district attorney, and district attorneys around the nation are abusing the felony murder rule to boost their murder conviction rates, because this is good for both prosecutors’ salaries and their political careers.
The felony murder rule was originally established in the United Kingdom, with the goal of being able to prosecute the getaway driver in a bank robbery on murder charges, when that robbery resulted in death. The UK abolished the law, shortly after it was enacted, because it was being abused.
Unfortunately, the State of Kansas continues to abuse this law, not in the pursuit of justice, but in the pursuit of political ambition.