Kansas Jury Recommends Death in Coed's 1996 Slaying

A jury on Monday recommended the death penalty for a man convicted of killing a southeast Kansas college student 12 years ago.

Jurors deliberated for about three hours before returning their decision in the case of Gary Kleypas, who was convicted in 1997 of capital murder in the death of 20-year-old Carrie Williams.

Formal sentencing by Crawford County District Judge Donald Noland will take place in November, but an exact date has not been set.

It wasn't the first time a jury has recommended capital punishment for Kleypas, 53, who was the first person sentenced to death after Kansas reinstated capital punishment in 1994. The Kansas Supreme Court overturned that sentence in December 2001, concluding the law did not give jurors enough guidance to determine when to impose a death sentence.

The high court sent the case back to district court, which later moved the sentencing hearing moved from Crawford County to Wyandotte County.

The victim's mother, Janie Williams, said she was happy with the verdict.

"Twenty-four people in two different counties found this man guilty," Williams said. "They followed Kansas law, and I think that it's important to note. Basically, this is about choice. This is what he chose. This is what he gets."

Defense attorneys and prosecutors left without commenting after the verdict was read. Neither can comment on the case because a gag order is in place until the judge affirms the sentence.

During closing arguments, Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney told jurors that Kleypas deserved the death penalty because of the manner in which Williams died and because Kleypas was on parole for a 1977 murder in Missouri.

"Carrie Williams died a long, slow death." Disney said. "(Kleypas) took the life of a 20-year-old girl just so he didn't have to face the consequences of his actions."

Williams was severely beaten and stabbed seven times in her apartment in March 1996. Kleypas also was convicted of attempted rape and aggravated burglary.

Defense attorney Ron Evans told the jury to consider mitigating factors, such as Kleypas' difficult childhood and mental illness.

"There are reasons to save Gary's life, and it's only fair that you consider them," Evans said.