Kansas Supreme Court sets aside ‘Hard 50’ sentence

Rogelio Soto
Rogelio Soto

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — 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 mandatory 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.