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UPDATE: Kansas Supreme court hears 'Hard 50' appeal

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- The Kansas Supreme Court is considering whether a defendant's minimum 50-year sentence for premeditated first-degree murder should stand.

The court heard arguments Monday in the case of Matthew Astorga. It was the second appeal of a "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 decide if a defendant gets that sentence.

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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