WICHITA, Kan. – Chambers USA 2021 has ranked Dan Monnat, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, among the top Kansas litigators in White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations. Chambers USA describes Monnat as “a widely venerated litigator, respected in the market for his expert representation in trial and appellate white-collar criminal proceedings,” and further notes his work in healthcare and financial investigations.

“I truly appreciate Chambers’ recognition and am gratified they found our work in healthcare and financial investigations particularly worthy of mention,” Monnat said. “Regardless of the individual or business sector, our goal is to provide every client the most solid legal research and expertise possible.”

Monnat has practiced criminal law, white-collar criminal law and appellate law in Wichita for 45 years and was named one of Super Lawyers’ Top 10 Lawyers in Missouri and Kansas for 2018, 2019 and 2020. A graduate of California State University, Monnat received his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law. He also is a graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer’s College.

A frequent editorial contributor on criminal defense topics, Monnat is co-author of “Sentencing, Probation, and Collateral Consequences,” a chapter of the Kansas Bar Association’s Kansas Criminal Law Handbook, 5th edition.

Monnat has earned distinction as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, and the Kansas Bar Foundation.  He currently sits on the Kansas Association of Trial Lawyers’ Board of Editors.

Monnat is a member of the National Trial Lawyers Association. He is a past member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and lectures frequently at NACDL conferences and at other legal seminars nationwide.

Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. In addition to Monnat and co-founder Stan Spurrier, the firm includes shareholders Trevor Riddle and Sal Intagliata, and associates Matthew Gorney and Eli O’Brien.

WICHITA – The case involving two brothers convicted in a crime spree in December 2000 in Wichita that left five people dead was the focus of arguments in the Kansas Supreme Court Monday.

Jonathan and Reginald Carr were convicted in 2002 on four counts of capital murder, one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, and multiple counts of rape, kidnapping, and robbery.

The week-long crime spree involved the robbery of an assistant baseball coach and the carjacking of Ann Walenta, a local cellist, who was injured and later died in the hospital. A few days later, the brothers broke into a home where they abused and terrorized the five friends present inside for hours. Finally, after being forced to take money out of ATMs, they were taken to a field, shot in the head, run over, and left for dead. Brad Heyka, Heather Muller, Aaron Sander and Jason Befort were killed.

One woman survived when a bullet hit a barrette in her hair. During the trial, she was referred to as H.G. Her testimony was key in the case.

Though the brothers’ convictions have been upheld, the sentencing phase of the capital murder charges is the focus of the appeal process.

The courts heard arguments on the sentencing phase, including errors that may have taken place during sentencing. The court will ultimately make a ruling again whether the death penalty should be upheld or overturned on other grounds.

“What we have argued is that the prejudice in not allowing him to present his defense in the guilt phase leached into the penalty phase,” said Debra Wilson, attorney for Reginal Carr to the Kansas Supreme Court on Monday.

Wilson argued Reginald Carr should have been able to testify that he was not responsible and that it may have been a case of mistaken identity.

The attorney for Jonathan Carr told the Kansas Supreme Court there were circumstances that mental health issues for Jonathan needed to be addressed in sentencing.

“What we have argued is that the prejudice in not allowing him to present his defense in the guilt phase leached into the penalty phase,” said Clayton Perkins, attorney for Jonathan Carr.

Both defense attorneys say the proceedings for the brothers should also have been separated in the penalty phase. They also claim there were issues with jury instructions. The defense for the State of Kansas argued none of that should impact the jury sentence of death.

“There was no error,” said David Lowden, attorney for the state. “To the extent that this court does find error, we submit that none of those errors raised to the level of being reversible error. That they were harmless error basically.”

KSN Legal Analyst Dan Monnat says the proceedings are not swift in death penalty phase arguments.

“When the government seeks the ultimate penalty,” said Dan Monnat, “the ultimate degree of care must be given to the human being involved.”

The case could be brought back to Sedgwick County eventually. If it does, the district attorney in Sedgwick County would make the call if there will be a new jury to repeat just the sentencing phase.

On Monday afternoon, Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett released the following statement:

“The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments today in the cases of State v. Reginald Carr and State vs. Jonathan Carr. David Lowden, former Chief Attorney of the Appellate Division of the Office of the District Attorney, 18th Judicial District, argued the case for the State of Kansas while appellate attorneys, Debra Wilson and Clayton Perkins, presented arguments on behalf of the respective defendants.

In 2014, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld the guilty verdicts against both defendants but overturned the verdicts of death against each defendant. That decision was based on a finding that the United States Constitution had been violated by the penalty phase of the two cases having been tried together.  Other issues raised by the defendants on the grounds of Kansas law were not decided at that time.

The State of Kansas appealed this decision to the United State Supreme Court and in 2016, the US Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Kansas Supreme Court. The matter was back today for arguments on the remaining issues not decided by the Kansas Supreme Court in 2014.

At the close of the arguments today, the Kansas Supreme Court took the two cases “under advisement,” meaning the court will now review the case and issue final decisions at some future date.  The Court does not offer an estimated time frame as to when they will issue final opinions.”

See full story at KSN.com

“I had a cousin pass away in Rose Hill from COVID, you know, so it’s close to home,” said Wichita resident Jeff Darge.

Darge said, like many, he’s tired of wearing masks but has followed the rules closely after losing a family member to COVID-19.

He and other Wichita residents like Jeffrey Garrison were ecstatic to hear the news Thursday that the CDC is loosening its mask restrictions.

“I think that’s great. Great. It’s about time,” said Darge.

“I’m just extremely happy that we’re going to be able to stop wearing the masks if you’re fully vaccinated,” said Garrison.

The new guidance says fully vaccinated people can ditch social distancing and masks just about anywhere, even if crowded indoors. If you’re not vaccinated, the CDC says you should still mask up.

But it begs the question, can businesses legally enforce it?

“It’s important to remember that private businesses have always had the right to impose non-invidiously discriminatory requirements upon their customers,” said Wichita lawyer Dan Monnat.

Monnat said businesses have every right to enforce the new guidelines by asking customers who don’t want to wear masks to show proof of vaccination. He said he could only think of one scenario where a business could get into hot legal water.

“I think it gets complicated if a business wants to refuse service to someone who cannot be vaccinated because of a disability,” said Monnat.

But even then, Monnat said the business could simply ask the customer to wear a mask instead.

People like Darge and Garrison say they think it’s a big step in the right direction.

“Hopefully, people can get back to normal because it’s been a stress and strain, no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re working or whether you’re not working,” said Garrison.

“Yay, like, it’s light at the end of the tunnel. You know, I was hoping this day would come in that we would not have to wear masks and get back to normal, and maybe you see social distancing and stuff like that also,” said Darge.

The City of Wichita issued this statement in response to the new guidelines Thursday:

The City of Wichita is closely reviewing revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19 guidelines issued today, Thursday, May 13, 2021, and is conferring with local officials, including the Sedgwick County Health Department, to evaluate best practices to ensure the health and safety of the public and city employees.

City facilities, including City Hall, will continue to require the use of face masks and the practicing of safe social distancing protocols while we further evaluate public health guidance.

The City strongly encourages every resident to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The vaccine is free with no appointment necessary. Find COVID-19 vaccination information here: https://www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/vaccine/

See full video at KAKE.com