https://www.vox.com/2019/12/14/21022...onnell-beshear

Before handing over power to Gov. Andy Beshear (D) last week, former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) used his final days in office to issue hundreds of pardons, including people convicted of sexual assault and murder.

The decision has drawn criticism from both the left and the right, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling the pardons ?completely inappropriate? and Beshear calling the pardon of Dayton Jones, who was convicted of raping a child, ?wrong.?

Overall, the former governor issued 428 pardons, including Jones; a man who was convicted of killing his parents at age 16; and Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted of homicide and other crimes, and whose family has raised thousands of dollars to retire debt from Bevin?s 2015 gubernatorial campaign, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

On Twitter, Bevin pushed back against ?suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision making process,? calling such allegations ?both highly offensive and entirely false.? He also wrote he issued the pardons because ?America is a nation that was established with an understanding and support for redemption and second chances.?

But party leaders in the state do not agree. McConnell, who has represented Kentucky in the US Senate since 1985, told media at a press conference following his decision to file for re-election, ?I expect he had the power to do it, but looking at the examples of people who were incarcerated as a result of heinous crimes ? no, I don?t approve of it.?

And Beshear told NPR?s Here & Now that although he would not comment on all of the pardons, he was particularly bothered by the pardoning of Jones, whose case he worked on during his time as Kentucky?s attorney general. He said Jones had committed one of the ?worst crimes? his office had ever seen.

?It was an awful case where a young man in high school was attacked, was violated. It was filmed. It was sent out to different people at his school,? he said. ?I fully disagree with that pardon. ... It is a shame. And it?s wrong.?

Republican state officials had similar worries. Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers has advocated for the US attorney in Kentucky to investigate the pardons, and Republican Commonwealth?s Attorney Jackie Steele called into question why Bevin didn?t pardon Baker?s co-conspirators in robbery and homicide, arguing that choice seemed to suggest the donations of Baker?s family may have played a role in Bevin?s calculus.

Some Democrats have joined Stivers? call for an independent investigation, and Senate Minority Floor Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) told journalists ?Gov. Bevin?s pardons show what is a shocking lack of judgment and potentially an abuse of our system of justice.?
https://www.npr.org/2019/12/13/78781...-hundreds-more

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin departed the governor's mansion three days ago, but the reverberations of some of his final actions are still being felt across the state.

Bevin, a Republican who narrowly lost a bid for a second term last month, issued pardons to hundreds of people, including convicted rapists, murderers and drug offenders.

In one case, Bevin pardoned a man convicted of homicide. That man's family raised more than $20,000 at a political fundraiser to help Bevin pay off a debt owed from his 2015 gubernatorial campaign.

In all, the former governor signed off on 428 pardons and commutations since his loss to Democrat Andy Beshear, according to The Courier-Journal. The paper notes, "The beneficiaries include one offender convicted of raping a child, another who hired a hit man to kill his business partner and a third who killed his parents."
One pardon that had Sanders ? and many others ? particularly outraged was that of Micah Schoettle. He's a 41-year-old convicted of raping a 9-year-old child last year. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison, according to the Courier-Journal.

In his pardon order, Bevin wrote, "Micah Schoettle was tried and convicted of a heinous crime based only on testimony that was not supported by any physical evidence."

He added: "This case was investigated and prosecuted in a manner that was sloppy at best. I do not believe that the charges against Mr. Schoettle are true."

Bevin commuted Schoettle's sentenced to time served and ordered a full and unconditional pardon.

Another of Bevin's pardons was of Patrick Brian Baker, who was convicted in 2017 of murdering Donald Mills and tampering with physical evidence, among other charges.

As the Courier-Journal also reports, Baker's family "raised $21,500 at a political fundraiser last year to retire debt from Bevin's 2015 gubernatorial campaign." Baker's brother and sister-in-law also donated $4,000 to Bevin campaign, according to a state election finance database, the paper reports.

"Patrick Baker is a man who has made a series of unwise decisions in his adult life," Bevin wrote in his pardon letter dated Dec. 6, adding that evidence in his conviction was "sketchy at best."

"I am not convinced that justice has been served in the death of Donald Mills, nor am I convinced that the evidence has proven the involvement of Patrick Baker as murderer," Bevin wrote.

Baker was sentenced to 19 years, but served just two. His sentence was commuted to time served and a pardon only for the charges connected to the conviction.

Not all of Bevin's pardons were so contentious.

He also pardoned Tamishia Wilson of Henderson, Ky., convicted in 2006 of trafficking marijuana and drug paraphernalia possession. She was also convicted in 2004 of theft.

Bevin proclaimed in a Dec. 9 letter that she "is a new woman. She has turned her life around and become a model citizen."

The former governor also spared the life of death row inmate Gregory Wilson, who was convicted in 1988 of murder. The Courier-Journal reports the trial was widely described as "a travesty of justice and a national embarrassment for Kentucky."

The paper said Wilson's defense team consisted of two lawyers, one of whom "had never tried a felony before" and a lead counsel who "had no office, no law books and on his business card, he gave out the phone number to a local tavern."

An array of other ethical woes plagued the case.

Bevin commuted his sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole, writing that Wilson received "the short end of the justice stick. ... Regardless of the final resolution of future parole board hearings, Mr. Wilson at least deserves an equal opportunity for justice to be served."

Reached on Thursday for comment by The Washington Post, Bevin said of the pardons, "I'm a believer in second chances."

"If there has been a change and there's no further value that comes for the individual, for society, for the victims, for anybody, if a person continues to stay in," Bevin noted, "then that's when somebody should be considered for a commutation or a pardon."