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Kan. Supreme Court to hear 'Hard 50' appeal

Published on -12/9/2013, 10:02 AM

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The Kansas Supreme Court is taking up an appeal of a minimum 50-year sentence imposed on a man convicted of premeditated first-degree murder.

The case of Matthew Astorga on Monday's docket is the second appeal of a so-called "Hard 50" sentence since legislators rewrote the law this fall in response to a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Kansas previously allowed judges to sentence people convicted of premeditated first-degree murder to 50 years before they can seek parole. But the nation's highest court ruled that juries should have the final say on the facts triggering mandatory minimum sentences.

Astorga was sentenced for a 2008 shooting death in Leavenworth County. His lawyers argue the changes made by the Legislature amount to creating a new crime and punishment and are unconstitutional.

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