A man who has been convicted of murder will remain in a maximum custody level while he is at Leavenworth County Jail, the jail commander said.

A man who has been convicted of murder will remain in a maximum custody level while he is at Leavenworth County Jail, the jail commander said.

But an attorney for Matthew Astorga argued Thursday that being placed in solitary confinement for an extended period of time is impacting his client's mental health.

"He has no chance of getting out of segregation," attorney Matthew Tillma said.

Tillma is representing Astorga in a civil case in which Astorga has complained about his treatment at the Leavenworth County Jail.

Astorga, 41, remains in custody at the jail as he awaits resentencing in a murder case and a trial in another case.

District Judge Michael Gibbens made no ruling Thursday regarding Astorga's claims about his treatment.

Gibbens said he is not going to rush his decision.

"I think this is an important decision not just for Mr. Astorga but for the Sheriff's Office going forward," Gibbens said.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office operates the County Jail.

Gibbens scheduled a hearing for May 3 to make a decision in the case.

Astorga was convicted in 2009 of the first-degree murder of Ruben Rodriguez. The crime occurred Dec. 26, 2008, in Leavenworth.

Astorga received what is known as a Hard 50 sentence. This means he received a life sentence without the 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.

Astorga faces a charge of battery on a county corrections officer in a separate case. This crime is alleged to have occurred July 15, 2014, at the Leavenworth County Jail.

Astorga is accused of spitting in the face of a jail officer.

What is known as a writ of habeas corpus hearing was conducted Thursday in Leavenworth County District Court to address complaints Astorga has made about his treatment at the county jail.

Astorga testified during the hearing.

Astorga said he remains in his jail cell 23 hours of each day.

"I'm in solitary confinement," he said.

Astorga discussed other complaints during his testimony. He argued that he is not receiving the medicine he needs. He also complained that he is not allowed to purchase items such as batteries.

Mollie Hill, an attorney who represents the Sheriff's Office, called Lt. Mark Metcalf to testify during Thursday's hearing. Metcalf serves as the jail commander.

Metcalf testified that Astorga is housed in the jail's segregation pod as a maximum custody level inmate. Metcalf said this is based on the inmate's past behavior including alleged attacks on officers.

"His placement is not retaliatory at all," Metcalf said.

Metcalf said Astorga has received special consideration that others in the segregation pod have not. Metcalf said Astorga has been allowed video visits with family members.

Hill also called Melissa Wardrop, nursing supervisor for the Sheriff's Office. She answered questions about Astorga's medical treatment at the jail.

At one point during Wardrop's testimony, Astorga could be heard saying, "Objection."

Gibbens asked if an objection had been made. Tillma said there had not been a formal objection.

During closing arguments, Tillma cited court decisions that found extended periods of solitary confinement are hardships.

Gibbens said there typically is a time limit for placing an inmate in segregation as a disciplinary measure. But the judge noted that Astorga's case involves the placement of an inmate in segregation because of a maximum custody level status.

Gibbens also noted that there is a difference between a jail and prison. He said inmates do not have as much individual freedom in jails as they do in prison because of the size of the facilities.

Gibbens said he does not know how to apply court decisions involving the treatment of inmates in prison to a case involving the County Jail.

Tillma said he recently found a court ruling from Colorado involving pretrial detention. But he said he has not found a similar decision for the state of Kansas.

When scheduling the May 3 hearing, Gibbens said he is giving Tillma time to prepare a written argument citing the additional court decision he found. Gibbens said Hill also will have time to respond.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR