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State v. Clark

Supreme Court of Kansas

April 14, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Steven A. Clark, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS

         1. Whether a sentence is illegal within the meaning of K.S.A. 22-3504 is a question of law over which the appellate court has unlimited review.

         2. Interpretation of K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 22-3717 is a question of law subject to unlimited review.

         3. An illegal sentence is defined as (1) a sentence imposed by a court without jurisdiction; (2) a sentence that does not conform to the applicable statutory provision, either in the character or the term of the authorized punishment; or (3) a sentence that is ambiguous concerning the time and manner in which it is to be served.

         4. The statute providing for a hard 25 life sentence, K.S.A. 1994 Supp. 22-3717(b)(1), applies to certain crimes committed on or after July 1, 1994.

         5. Under the facts of this case, the district court did not err in summarily denying defendant's motion.

         Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; John J. Kisner, Jr., judge. Affirmed.

          Michael P. Whalen and Krystle Dalke, of Law Office of Michael P. Whalen, of Wichita, were on the brief for appellant.

          Matt J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          Nuss, C.J.

         A jury found Steven A. Clark guilty of one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder for crimes he committed in October 1994. In June 1995, the district court imposed sentence-including a hard 25 life sentence. Nearly 20 years later Clark filed a motion contending that his sentence is illegal because his crimes predated the hard 25 sentencing statute.

         Because we conclude that the hard 25 sentencing statute applies to certain crimes committed on or after July 1, 1994, and therefore applies to the crimes Clark committed in October 1994, we affirm the decision of the district court.

         Facts and Procedural Background

         According to the prosecution, Steven A. Clark believed that his girlfriend, Lynette Odanga, was in a sexual relationship with Kenneth Shine. On October 23, 1994, Shine and several other individuals visited Odanga's apartment. Clark, who was also present, got into an altercation with Shine and fired two shots in Shine's direction. Shine and Odanga then ...


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