Killer, child rapist among 428 persons pardoned in the last days of former Kentucky Governor's tenure
A child rapist and a murderer are among 428 persons who were pardoned by the former Governor of Kentucky, in the United States, during his final days in office.
According to reports, the flurry of pardons by ex-Republican Governor Matt Bevin has sent shock waves through the legal system in Kentucky and triggered a call by state lawmakers for an investigation by the Attorney General’s office.
State prosecutors told local media they had not been consulted about the pardons and it’s believed that families of the victims were not notified in advance.
The extensive list includes Patrick Baker, who was convicted in 2017 of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a police officer and tampering with evidence linked to a 2014 home invasion that resulted in the death of Donald Mills.
Baker's brother and sister-in-law held a political fundraiser for Bevin last year, raising US$21,500 and donating an additional US$4,000 to his campaign at the same event, the British Broadcasting Corporation reported, citing the local Courier Journal newspaper.
Baker had served just two years of his 17-year sentence when he was pardoned last Monday.
His co-conspirators in the robbery and homicide were not pardoned.
State lawmakers want the Attorney General’s office to investigate Bevin's pardon of Baker, according to local media.
But the former governor has defended his action, describing the convicted killer as "a man who has made a series of unwise decisions in his adult life", including his drug addiction, and called the evidence against him "sketchy at best".
"I'm a big believer in second chances," Bevin said in a statement to the Washington Post newspaper.
"I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life."
Others who were pardoned include a man who was sentenced last year to 23 years in prison for raping a 9-year-old child; Dayton Jones, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy; Brett Whitaker, who was convicted of killing a pastor and his wife while driving drunk; and a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for throwing her newborn in the trash after giving birth in a flea market outhouse.
Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear in November after a contentious election.