The prosecution in Kyler Carriker’s trial appears to be more concerned with triggering emotional responses from the jury than presenting a fact based case against Carriker.
This morning, day six of Carriker’s trial on the ex post facto charges of felony murder and attempted distribution of a controlled substance (marijuana) was delayed for over an hour after the judge learned that the jurors were being escorted by armed guards when entering and exiting the courthouse.
Such protective measures are only supposed to be employed on the judge’s orders, under extreme circumstances where jurors’ lives may be at risk. Judge Terry Pullman never gave such an order, yet the jury in Carriker’s case was told that their armed security was “for their safety” by Sedgwick County Courthouse Police officers.
This unnecessary measure resulted in one juror being dismissed from duty, in part because she believed her life was in danger and admitted to the judge that these measures had given her a negative impression of the defendant, Carriker.
Prosecutor Trinity Muth argued to keep that juror on the panel, claiming that she could still be impartial, but was overruled by the judge.
After dismissing the juror and replacing her with an alternate, the judge addressed the jury, and informed them that the security was not in place for their safety, but rather to ensure that the jurors were not speaking with anyone about the case. The judge told the jurors that they were safe, and that there existed no reason for concern for their safety.
Later this same afternoon, the state called Jennifer Betts, wife of the deceased, to the stand. Jennifer Betts was not present the night that her husband was killed by Dennis Haynes, and the value of her testimony was questionable, at best. The key factor of Betts’ testimony revolved around six marijuana plants that were growing in Kyle Beltz’ basement at the time of Ronald Betts’ death.
Jennifer Betts’ testified under oath that those plants were owned by her husband, Kyle Beltz, and Kyler Carriker. The prosecution then played a brief video taken from Ronald Betts’ phone, of those marijuana plants, with Betts himself narrating.
Upon hearing her deceased husband’s voice, Jennifer Betts broke down in tears. Immediately after that video, the prosecution ended their questioning and turned the witness over to defense attorney Sarah Swain.
Swain handled the still teary-eyed widow gently, reminding Betts of her testimony in previous related trials, and her statements to detectives at the time of Ronald Betts’ death.
During those trials, Jennifer Betts stated that, according to Ronald Betts, the marijuana plants in Kyle Beltz’ basement belong to her husband, and to Kyle Beltz. In those previous trials, Jennifer Betts never once stated that the plants also belonged to Kyler.
During her initial police interviews, Jennifer Betts told detectives that she had never heard of Kyler Carriker, although in her testimony today, she claimed that Ronald was acting on Kyler’s behalf. Upon exposing these glaring contradictions in Betts’ testimony, Swain graciously allowed Jennifer Betts to leave the witness stand.
Because the primary direct knowledge Jennifer Betts provided in her testimony turned out to be false, one can only presume that her testimony was intended to evoke an emotional response from the jury.
The state’s next witness was Detective Robert Chisholm, who testified about text messages sent between Carriker, Beltz, Lorenzo Spires, who was one of the armed robbers, and Clifton Parks, who helped arrange the marijuana deal but never showed up at Kyle Beltz’ home.
On cross examination, defense attorney Swain asked Chisholm if any of those text messages showed that Kyler had any knowledge of the planned robbery, or the murder that was to take place. Chisholm admitted, somewhat reluctantly, that Carriker appeared to believe it was “just a drug deal”.
Swain also questioned Chisholm about the identity of a person named “Quan” in one of the robbers’ phones, but Chisholm claimed he did not recall seeing such a name. The presumption is that the jury will learn more about Quan in the days to come, when the defense presents its case.
The state then called the forensic pathologist who performed Ronald Betts’ autopsy to the stand. This witness also seems out of place, as the physical circumstances of Betts’ death are not being disputed by Carriker’s defense. There is little question as to who shot Ronald Betts, or that he ultimately died of those wounds.
Kyler Carriker is not being accused of shooting Ronald Betts, so detailing his wounds does not amount to evidence against Carriker, but, is once again designed to have a psychological effect on the jury. In the morning, jurors will be shown the autopsy photos of the man Kyler Carriker is not accused of shooting, presumably for the same psychological reasoning.
Throughout the presentation of its case, the prosecution has attempted to paint Kyler Carriker as the “mastermind” who “orchestrated” this marijuana deal, despite the fact that Kyler had to go through Kyle Beltz to communicate with Ronald Betts, the deceased dealer, and never actually had any communication with Dennis Haynes, had never met him, and had never spoken to him. Carriker was not even aware that Haynes would be present.
Meanwhile, roughly 100 of Carriker’s supporters protested peacefully, outside of the courthouse.
As the state’s evidence is heard, it becomes clear that Carriker was simply a patsy.