Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kansas officals: Boost penalties for attempted capital murder

By The Herald Staff | 1/8/2014

TOPEKA — The penalty for an attempted murder should fit the crime, two top state officials said Tuesday.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, want the punishment for attempted capital murder increased, and said Tuesday they plan to propose legislation when the state Legislature reconvenes next week to raise the penalty to a “Hard 25” life sentence. Under current law, the penalty depends on a defendant’s criminal history, but can be a little as 147 months, or 12.25 years in prison.

TOPEKA — The penalty for an attempted murder should fit the crime, two top state officials said Tuesday.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt and Senate Vice President Jeff King, R-Independence, want the punishment for attempted capital murder increased, and said Tuesday they plan to propose legislation when the state Legislature reconvenes next week to raise the penalty to a “Hard 25” life sentence. Under current law, the penalty depends on a defendant’s criminal history, but can be a little as 147 months, or 12.25 years in prison.

“Twelve years in prison is not enough for those who try, but fail, to commit capital murder,” King said. “A Hard 25 sentence is the least the Legislature can do to protect Kansans from these heinous criminals.”

Examples of crimes that would fit the label of attempted capital murder include attempted intentional and premeditated murders, attempted killing of a law enforcement officer, attempted killing of more than one person, attempted contract killing or attempted killing of a victim during commission of kidnapping for ransom or a serious sex offense.

“Under Kansas law, the only penalties for capital murder are life in prison without parole or the death penalty,” Schmidt said. “It makes little sense that a person who tries but fails to commit capital murder could be out of prison in as little as 12 years.”

King, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the committee would conduct a hearing on the proposal during the first week of the legislative session, which begins Monday.

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