Victims’ families, state reach accord in lawsuits

Early release from jail preceded murders in Wichita in 2000

? The state would pay more than $1.5 million to the relatives of four murder victims, under tentative settlements reached in two lawsuits stemming from a 2000 killing spree.

Aaron Sander, Jason Befort, Heather Muller and Brad Heyka were shot to death by brothers Reginald and Jonathan Carr on Dec. 15 of that year. Another woman was shot but survived.

The families’ lawsuits alleged negligence by a state parole officer who mistakenly authorized Reginald Carr’s early release from the Ford County Jail shortly before the killing spree began.

Before the killings, the five were robbed, held at gunpoint and sexually assaulted.

Muller’s family did not join in the lawsuit filed by relatives of Sander, Befort and Heyka.

A separate lawsuit was filed by the husband of Ann Walenta, a cellist with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. She was shot by Reginald Carr during a robbery four days before the other killings and later died of her injuries.

The Carr brothers were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death.

The agreements call for the Sander, Befort and Heyka families to share $1.25 million in damages. Walenta’s family would get $450,000.

The awards still must be approved by the State Finance Committee.