Kansas Supreme Court tosses out convicted killer’s life term

Seal of the Kansas Supreme Court. (Courtesy KSNT)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Kansas Supreme Court has thrown out the life sentence of one of three men convicted in the 2009 killing of an 18-year-old woman initially left to die in a car’s trunk.

The court unanimously ordered Joseph Mattox’s resentencing after ruling Friday the trial judge – not a jury as required – found aggravated factors warranting the life sentence without parole possible for 50 years.

The Supreme Court upheld Mattox’s first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery convictions involving the death of Keighley Alyea.

Friday’s ruling says Alyea was attacked and thrown into a car’s trunk before being assaulted again when she regained consciousness and began screaming. Her body was found a week later in Missouri’s Cass County.

An autopsy showed she’d been stabbed dozens of times, beaten and choked.