Sidney Gleason was sentenced to death by the State of Kansas for a double murder. According to court documents Sidney Gleason, Damien Thompson and Mikiala “Miki” Martinez, were involved in a robbery. Afterwards Sidney Gleason and Damien Thompson were concerned that Martinez was talking to law enforcement so they planned her murder. Sidney Gleason and Damien Thomson would kidnap Mikiala “Miki” Martinez, and her boyfriend Darren Wornkey and killing the couple soon after. Damien Thomson plead guilty and was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years. Sidney Gleason went to trial, was found guilty and sentenced to death.
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A jury convicted Gleason of capital murder for the killings of Darren Wornkey and his girlfriend, Mikiala “Miki” Martinez, as well as premeditated first-degree murder for killing Wornkey, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and criminal possession of a firearm. In a separate penalty phase, the same jury sentenced Gleason to death for the capital offense. See K.S.A. 21–3439(a)(6) (defining capital murder as the “intentional and premediated killing of more than one person as a part of the same act or transaction or in two or more acts or transactions connected together or constituting parts of a common scheme or course of conduct”).
These crimes were more fully detailed in our earlier decision. See Gleason I, 299 Kan. at 1134–46. As explained there, Gleason and Damien Thompson were involved with Martinez in an aggravated robbery. Fearing that Martinez was talking with law enforcement about the robbery, Gleason and Thompson tried to intimidate her. In doing so, Gleason shot and killed Wornkey. A short time later, Thompson shot and killed Martinez. After their arrests, Thompson agreed to plead guilty to the first-degree murder of Martinez, disclose the location of her body, and testify against Gleason. In return, the State agreed to recommend certain sentencing terms and dismiss the remaining charges against Thompson. This resulted in Thompson receiving a sentence of life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 25 years.
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A divided Kansas Supreme Court said Friday that it will uphold the death sentence of a man it previously overturned, according to a news release.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the Kansas Supreme Court to take a second look at Sidney Gleason’s case early last year after hearing oral arguments in it and the cases of killers Jonathan and Reginald Carr in October 2015. A Barton County jury gave Gleason a death sentence for killing Mikiala “Miki” Martinez and her boyfriend, Darren Wornkey, in 2004 to keep her from telling authorities about an armed robbery.
“The decision today affirms the conviction and death sentence based on a Barton County jury’s findings and moves this case along one step further. The wheels of justice are turning,” Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said in an e-mailed statement after the ruling was announced
When the Kansas Supreme Court originally took up Gleason’s appeal in 2014 it upheld his convictions but vacated his death sentence after deciding jurors weren’t given adequate instruction on when to recommend the death penalty. The court ordered he receive a new penalty-phase of his trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that decision in 2016.
Friday’s 4-3 ruling decided eight issues, including questions of whether a jury instruction error was harmless given prosecutors’ evidence against Gleason and whether his sentence violated the Kansas Constitution because it was more severe than the 25-to-life prison sentence his accomplice, Damien Thompson, received.
Justice Dan Biles penned the majority decision. Justice Caleb Stegall agreed with decision to uphold Gleason’s death sentence but disagreed with some of the majority’s rationale for doing so.
Justices Marla Luckert and Carol Beier dissented, saying Thompson’s refusal to testify against Gleason led to errors that warrant reversal of his murder convictions and a new jury trial.