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Robert T. Benton II

Appeal court splits over “cruel and unusual punishment” question

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A Tallahassee-based appeal court panel on Friday split 2-1 over whether a life sentence for touching an 11-year-old girl’s breast over her clothes is cruel and unusual punishment as banned by the U.S. Constitution. The 1st District Court of Appeal affirmed the “lewd or lascivious molestation” conviction and life sentence of Stephen C. Hanf, imprisoned at the Northwest Florida Reception Center in Chipley. A dissenting judge, though, said Hanf’s life without parole punishment is unconstitutional, calling it “grossly disproportionate” to the offense. “Cruel and unusual…

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