The trial for Kyler Carriker (Kyler Winn) began today. Carriker faces a twenty year mandatory minimum sentence on the charge of first degree felony murder, for a crime in which he was actually the victim.
Read about Kyler Carriker’s case:
While the jury pool was being divided and assigned on the first floor, a last minute motion was heard in Judge Terry Pullman’s courtroom on the sixth floor. At the heart of that motion, was the issue of whether or not Carriker’s supporters would be permitted to be on the first floor, the sixth floor, and in the courtroom, wearing t-shirts featuring a photo of Carriker, and the words “not a murderer”, “not guilty”, “#justiceforkyler” and the words “twenty year mandatory”, crossed out.
Carriker’s attorney, Sarah Swain, argued that the shirts should be allowed in the courtroom, citing case law that allows supporters of crime victims to wear similar shirts during court proceedings. The courts have ruled that supporters of victims wearing these shirts does not negatively impact a defendant’s right to a fair trial.
In her motion, Swain cites, among other cases, United States Supreme Court case Cohen v. California, which upholds the right of private citizens to wear “expressive clothing in the courthouse”.
The prosecution argued that Swain had no business representing the rights of Carriker’s supporters in the court. Judge Pullman ultimately ruled in favor of the prosecution, stating that it was within his discretionary powers to ban the shirts, despite the fact that victims’ supporters have been permitted to wear such shirts in other trials.
After that brief motion was ruled upon, the jury selection process, also known as vior dire, began. 42 prospective jurors entered the small courtroom, with barely enough seating room. Carriker’s supporters and other observers were forced out of the room due to the lack of seating space, and not permitted to observe the process until enough jurors were dismissed to create open seats.
Roughly 40 people came to the courthouse today in support of Carriker, some coming from as far away as California. About 20 of those supporters demonstrated outside the courthouse, wearing the shirts that were banned from the courtroom, and carrying signs denouncing the war on drugs.
Carriker is the son of former Kansas gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Winn. The trial is expected to last two weeks and protests are scheduled to continue Monday through Friday, 8-5, throughout the duration.