Prosecutors around the nation have been abusing the felony murder rule to bolster the number of murder convictions they can brag about when election time rolls around, and Sedgwick County’s District Attorney Marc Bennett is no exception.
In Kyler Carriker’s case, which goes to trial in Wichita, this Monday, Bennett’s office has charged Kyler with felony murder, which carries a mandatory 20 year sentence, simply because Kyler allegedly told someone where to buy a small amount of marijuana.
At Kyler’s preliminary hearing, District Court Judge David Kaufman stated that these charges seemed particularly “harsh”, but that he was bound by law to rule in favor of the prosecution in sending the case to trial.
The felony murder rule can be applied when a death occurs during the commission of an “inherently dangerous felony”.
The law was originally established in Great Britain in order to prosecute getaway drivers in bank robberies where a murder was committed, but the UK abolished the law years ago, due to prosecutors’ abuse of the rule.
Under American law, the term “inherently dangerous felony” refers to a crime in which “death is likely to occur”. The State of Kansas mysteriously added being a “middle-man” in a marijuana deal to the inherently dangerous felony list, after Kyler was arrested, and then made it retroactive so that it could be applied to Kyler’s case.
In Kyler’s case, the state alleges that Kyler told a former classmate where to purchase marijuana. That classmate then showed up with a group of documented gang members that Kyler had never met.
One of those gang members, Dennis Haynes, shot Kyler and then also shot the marijuana dealer, Ronald Betts, brother of former Kansas state senator Donald Betts. Betts died from his injuries.
Kyler knew nothing of the robbery that was planned and carried out by the gang members he had never met, and was in fact a victim of that robbery, but the judge presiding over the trial, Terry Pullman, has ruled that Kyler’s attorney cannot argue that the armed robbery, and not the marijuana deal, was the inherently dangerous felony that resulted in Betts’ death.
Kyler is the son of former gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Winn. Winn, despite having no prior political experience to speak of, decided to run for office after witnessing the gross injustice in her son’s case. Running a shoestring campaign, Winn was able to garner an impressive 37% of the republican primary vote against Governor Sam Brownback.