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Kansas Supreme Court Sets Aside ‘Hard 50’ Sentence

Associated Press - April 11, 2014 11:33 am

The Kansas Supreme Court has reversed the “Hard 50” murder sentence of a Wichita man but refused to rule whether changes made by legislators to the law in 2013 can be applied.

Justices ruled Friday that the sentence for Rogelio Soto in a 2009 stabbing must be vacated because his rights were violated when a judge, rather than a jury, sentenced him to 50 years in prison with no possibility of parole.

The case is the first to be decided after a June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found juries, not judges, must impose a maximum minimum sentence such as the “Hard 50.”

Kansas legislators who rewrote the law argued those changes should be applied only on pending “Hard 50” cases and those on appeal.