|Even though the state Supreme Court recently upheld a death sentence for the first time under the state’s 1994 capital punishment law, Kansas isn’t likely to see executions anytime soon or a shift in how the justices handle capital murder cases.
“Symbolically, there is something different,” said Robert Dunham, head of the anti-capital punishment, nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center. “But I wouldn’t read too much into it.”
Several prosecutors are encouraged by this month’s decision in the case of John E. Robinson Sr. — who was sentenced to die for killing two women in 1999 and 2000 and tied by evidence or his own admission to six other deaths, including a teenage girl, in Kansas and Missouri — saying it showed it is possible to preserve a death sentence on appeal in Kansas.
Two Kansas law professors said the 415-page decision in John E. Robinson’s case issued earlier this month suggests the Supreme Court’s examination of future capital cases will remain as thorough as it has been.
The high court’s past decisions overturning death sentences inspired a campaign that almost succeeded in ousting two justices in last year’s elections and handed republican Gov. Sam Brownback a potent issue in the final weeks of his race for re-election. And there are more capital cases before the justices.
Only four days after the Robinson decision, Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., an avowed anti-Semite, was sentenced to death for the fatal shootings of three people at Jewish sites in the Kansas City suburbs.