Kansas Judge Says He Can’t Impose Hard 50 Sentencing

A judge has ruled that he can’t impose the state’s “Hard 50” sentence against a Wichita man convicted of stomping his girlfriend to death.

The Wichita Eagle reports that District Judge William Woolley cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in issuing the ruling Friday in the case against Anson Bernhardt. The ruling said juries, not judges, must make factual findings that increase the mandatory minimum sentence of a criminal defendant.

After the hearing, prosecutors said they would move forward with plans to empanel a new jury in the case. The jury will be asked to determine whether Bernhardt should receive a sentence of life without the possibility of parole for 50 years.

Bernhardt was convicted in July of first-degree murder in the death last year of 38-year-old Amber Kostner.