BY THE COURT
appellate court applies a de novo standard of review to a
district court's summary denial of a motion to correct an
illegal sentence under K.S.A. 22-3504.
K.S.A. 22-3504 only applies if a sentence is illegal. Whether
a sentence is illegal is a question of law over which an
appellate court has unlimited review. An illegal sentence
under the statute is one 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 in which it is to be
sentence that conforms to the applicable statutory provision
in both character and term of authorized punishment is not
from Sedgwick District Court; Jeffrey E. Goering, judge.
L. Alford, appellant, was on the briefs pro se.
J. Maloney, assistant district attorney, Marc Bennett,
district attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, were
on the brief for appellee.
L. Alford appeals the district court's summary denial of
his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Alford argues his
hard 40 sentence is illegal because the sentencing jury
considered inadmissible hearsay evidence and was wrongly
instructed that it needed to unanimously recommend the hard
15 sentence. Because his claims cannot be raised in a motion
to correct an illegal sentence, we affirm the decision of the
and Procedural History
1993, Alford was convicted of first-degree murder, aggravated
kidnapping, and unlawful possession of a firearm for shooting
his ex-girlfriend seven times while she was at work. After
convicting Alford of first-degree murder, the jury reconvened
to determine whether he should receive a hard 40 sentence,
i.e., a life sentence with a mandatory minimum of 40 years.
sentencing, the jury was instructed to recommend a hard 40
sentence if it found beyond a reasonable doubt that
"there are one or more aggravating circumstances and
that they outweigh mitigating circumstances," and it was
the jury's duty to return a hard 15 verdict if "you
have a reasonable doubt that aggravating circumstances
outweigh mitigating circumstances." The jury was also
instructed "[i]n order to reach a verdict in this case,
your decision must be unanimous." Alford's jury
checked its verdict form's box next to the aggravating
circumstance that Alford committed the crime in an especially
heinous, atrocious, or cruel manner. Based on the jury's
findings, the district court imposed the hard 40 sentence.
affirmed Alford's convictions and sentence on direct
appeal. State v. Alford, 257 Kan. 830, 896 P.2d 1059
(1995). There, we held the murder victim's written
statement regarding a prior aggravated battery was not
hearsay because it was not admitted to prove the truth of the
matter asserted. Rather, the statement was admissible to show
discord and that Alford was distraught over the breakup,
which had a bearing on his intent to kill. 257 Kan. at 840.
years later, in 2016, Alford filed two pro se motions to
correct an illegal sentence. In the motions, Alford argued
that the trial court violated K.S.A. 1993 Supp. 21-4624(3) by
permitting the sentencing jury to consider the murder
victim's written statement regarding the earlier
aggravated battery, which he contended was improperly
admitted at trial in violation of hearsay rules and at
sentencing in violation of due process and the Sixth
Amendment right to confront witnesses. He also argued the
court wrongly instructed the jury and the ...