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State v. Kingsley

Supreme Court of Kansas

June 2, 2017

State of Kansas, Appellee,
v.
Alan Kingsley, Appellant.

         SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1. K.S.A. 22-3504(1), which governs correction of illegal sentences, applies only under very limited circumstances. An illegal sentence under this statute is a sentence imposed by a court without jurisdiction; a sentence that does not conform to the statutory provision, either in the character or the term of the punishment authorized; or a sentence that is ambiguous with respect to the time and manner it is to be served.

         2. A claim that a sentence fails to conform to constitutional requirements is not a claim that the sentence fails to conform to statutory requirements as is necessary to come within the narrow definition of "illegal sentence" under K.S.A. 22-3504(1).

         Appeal from Sedgwick District Court; John J. Kisner, Jr., judge. Opinion filed June 2, 2017. Affirmed.

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

          Boyd K. Isherwood, assistant district attorney, Marc Bennett, district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were on the brief for appellee.

          OPINION

          Biles, J.

         Alan W. Kingsley was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder for a 1991 killing. The jury recommended a hard 40 life sentence, which the district court imposed. Kingsley now claims the sentence was illegal because it was based on an incorrect criminal history score and that his due process rights were violated when his sentence was imposed based on that error. The district court summarily rejected these claims, and we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         A jury convicted Kingsley of four 1991 crimes: first-degree murder on the alternative theories of both premeditated and felony murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated arson, and forgery. As part of the proceedings, the jury found three aggravating circumstances: (1) Kingsley committed the crime for pecuniary gain; (2) he committed the crime to avoid or prevent arrest or prosecution; and (3) he committed the crime in an especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner. It also found the aggravating circumstances were not outweighed by any mitigating circumstances and recommended a hard 40 life sentence.

         The sentencing court accepted the jury's recommendation. In doing so, the court noted its "discretion . . . [was] extremely limited" under the hard 40 sentencing statute. The court first concluded there was sufficient evidence to support the findings of aggravating circumstances. Next, it reviewed each of the factors enumerated in K.S.A. 21-4606-the statute that provided the general rule at that time on ascertaining the minimum prison term to be imposed on a person convicted of a crime. In reviewing one of the factors, "the defendant's history of prior criminal activity, " the court noted:

"The presentence investigation indicates that he does have a significant history of prior criminal activity in the State of Florida. Seems to reflect convictions for forgery, possession of cocaine, burglary, robbery, and it is not certain from the record I've received whether or not he was convicted of hit and run with personal injury involved, although there have certainly been two arrests for his and run with personal injury and with property damage. The report I have received discloses that in Florida, anyway, he is categorized as a habitual felony offender."

         In addition to the hard 40 sentence, the court imposed respective 15-year-to-life sentences for aggravated robbery and aggravated arson, and a 1- to 5-year sentence for forgery. The court ordered that the aggravated arson and forgery sentences run consecutive to the murder and aggravated robbery sentences, which were also to run consecutive to one another.

         On direct appeal, this court vacated the aggravated arson conviction and remanded the case for resentencing on the lesser charge of arson. State v. Kingsley, 252 Kan. 761, 782, 851 P.2d 370 (1993). But the court affirmed the hard 40 sentence. 252 Kan. at 796. At resentencing, the district court imposed a 5- to 20-year sentence for arson. The net result of these proceedings was that Kingsley was ...


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