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Crime and Courts
Mon December 9, 2013
Court Considers Matthew Astorga's Appeal Of 'Hard 50' Sentence
The Kansas Supreme Court is considering one man's appeal of the minimum 50-year sentence he received for pre-meditated, first-degree murder.
Matthew Astorga's case on Monday is the second appeal of the so-called "Hard 50" sentence since state legislators rewrote the law this fall.
Astorga was sentenced for a shooting death in Leavenworth County in 2008.
His lawyers argue the Legislature's changes amount to creating a new crime and punishment and are unconstitutional.
Kansas previously allowed judges to sentence people convicted of premeditated first-degree murder to 50 years before they can seek parole.
But the Supreme Court ruled recently that juries should have the final say on the facts triggering mandatory minimum sentences.
Kansas lawmakers changed the state law in response to that ruling.