WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — After the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) declined to hear a second appeal for Jonathan and Reginald Carr on Monday, the case is making its way back to Sedgwick County. The two brothers were convicted on four counts of capital murder after killing five people in 2000.

Marc Bennett (Courtesy: Sedgwick County)

“The direct appeal, I think what most people think of as ‘the appeal,’ has no played itself out and is now final,” Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said. “That’s not the end, though.”

Bennett says absent of any additional pleadings or filings from the Carr brothers’ defense teams (once SCOTUS sends a mandate revesting the jurisdiction of the case back to Sedgwick County), the teams can move forward with are known as indirect or collateral attacks — a legal process which could take years.

“Most people would call them the ‘ineffective assistance of counsel’ claims,” Bennett said. “Worst case scenario: the collateral attacks are sustained, and they find that counsel was ineffective, and a new trial would happen … I would say they are infrequently granted.”

However, if a district court judge determines the defendants’ counsel was not ineffective, Bennett says the Carrs’ defense teams could bring the case back to the Kansas Supreme Court for an appeal.

“They can then appeal that to the United States Supreme Court because it’s a matter of [the] sixth amendment,” Bennett said, “It’s a constitutional question.”

Bennett says if the indirect appeals process does not lead to a new trial, the manner in which the death penalty is carried out could be challenged as cruel or unusual punishment.

“That’s never been challenged in Kansas yet because we haven’t gotten that far,” Bennett said. “Frankly, there’s no case that’s further, that’s that far along in its appellate process.”

Regarding the surviving victims and the victims’ families, Bennett says he had a conversation with a number of them Monday morning. He says the ones he spoke to were pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision and are ready for the next step, no matter what that might be.