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Kentucky's Defeated Gov Takes Flak Over Pardons

Matt Bevin says he's 'a big believer in second chances'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2019 10:36 AM CST
In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, Republican Matt Bevin looks on during the final Kentucky gubernatorial debate between Bevin and Democratic candidate Andy Beshear in Highland Heights, Ky.   (Albert Cesare/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP, Pool, Fil)

(Newser) – Patrick Brian Baker was sentenced to 19 years in prison for crimes stemming from a 2014 home invasion in which a man was fatally shot. Convicted of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer, and tampering with evidence, he has walked free after serving only two years. Baker—whose brother and sister-in-law donated thousands of dollars to Kentucky governor Matt Bevin in addition to raising $21,500 for him in 2018—was pardoned by Bevin days before the governor left office on Tuesday, reports the Washington Post. And Baker isn't the only one. The Republican governor issued 428 pardons and commutations following his November election loss, including to Micah Schoettle. Convicted of raping a child, Schoettle served less than 18 months of a 23-year sentence and will not have to register as a sex offender, per WCPO.

"It's mind-boggling how any governor could be this irresponsible," Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders tells WCPO. It's "an absolute atrocity of justice," adds Commonwealth's Attorney Jackie Steele, a Republican who prosecuted Baker. The pardon states Bevin isn't convinced that Baker killed anyone and that evidence against him is "sketchy." But Steele tells the Louisville Courier Journal that it was Baker, not his unpardoned co-conspirators, who fired the fatal shot. The judge who handed down the sentence said he'd "never seen a more compelling or complete case." Speaking broadly, Bevin tells the Post that he's "a big believer in second chances" and pardons should be considered when prison serves "no further value … for the individual, for society, for the victims." (Read more Matt Bevin stories.)

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