A judge has disqualified himself in two cases involving a man who was convicted of a 2008 murder in Leavenworth.

A judge has disqualified himself in two cases involving a man who was convicted of a 2008 murder in Leavenworth.

Leavenworth County District Judge Michael Gibbens did not offer a reason for his recusal in his written orders of disqualification in cases involving Matthew Astorga.

Astorga, 41, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Ruben Rodriguez. The crime took place Dec. 26, 2008, in Leavenworth.

Astorga was convicted of the murder charge following a trial in 2009. He received what is known as a Hard 50 sentence. This means he received a life sentence without possibility of parole for at least 50 years.

But he now has to be resentenced in the case because the state’s old Hard 50 law was struck down by a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Under a new law, a jury will have to decide whether Astorga should once again receive the Hard 50 sentence.

Gibbens did not preside over the 2009 trial. But he has been assigned to the case since taking over Leavenworth County’s adult criminal docket last year.

A trial for the resentencing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 25.

Gibbens filed the order in which he disqualified himself from the case on Thursday.

Gibbens also issued an order recusing himself from another criminal case pending against Astorga.

In that case, Astorga is charged with battery on a county corrections officer. This crime is alleged to have occurred July 15, 2014.

Astorga is accused of spitting in the face of an officer at the jail.

This case has not yet gone to trial. A status hearing in this case is scheduled for Wednesday.

Court Administrator Steve Crossland said a request has been made to the Kansas Supreme Court to have a judge from outside of the 1st Judicial District assigned to the cases.

The 1st Judicial District is made up of Leavenworth and Atchison counties.

“We’re awaiting a formal appointment from the Supreme Court,” Crossland said.

Gibbens also is scheduled to preside over a civil case involving Astorga. The matter is what is known as a writ of habeas corpus case and involves complaints Astorga has made regarding his treatment at the Leavenworth County Jail.

A hearing in that case is scheduled for Feb. 28.

It was not immediately clear Monday whether Gibbens also is recusing himself in this case.

The Times attempted to reach Gibbens for comment. But a phone message left with the judge’s administrative assistant was not immediately returned Monday.

Gibbens recently has been in the news because of criticism he has received for comments he made in December during the sentencing for a man who pleaded no contest to a charge of electronic solicitation.

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