GOP governor pardons murderer whose family donated to his campaign as he leaves office

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The judge who sentenced the man said he had 'never seen a more compelling or complete case' in his 30 years on the bench.

One of Matt Bevin's final acts as governor of Kentucky was to pardon a convicted murderer whose family raised tens of thousands of dollars to help erase his campaign debt, leading to outcry from the prosecutor who tried the murder case and the judge who sentenced the man to 19 years in prison, according to the Courier Journal.

Convicted murder Patrick Brian Baker's family held a fundraiser for the ousted Republican governor that brought in $21,500 to cover debt from Bevin's 2015 gubernatorial bid, the outlet reported. It noted that Baker's brother and sister-in-law gave $4,000 of their own at the fundraiser.

At the time of his pardon, Baker had served only two of the 19 years to which he was sentenced for a 2014 home invasion and murder. Two of Baker's co-conspirators were not granted pardons from Bevin and remain in jail.

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Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele, who prosecuted the case, told the Courier Journal he was "aggrieved" about the pardon, and questioned why Baker would receive a pardon but not the other two men involved in the crime.

Steele told the outlet that Baker was the most troublesome of the co-conspirators, given that he was the one who committed murder during the home invasion. According to the report, the men posed as law enforcement to enter the victim's home and steal items, eventually murdering the victim — Donald Mills — while his wife and two children were in the house.

"What makes Mr. Baker any different than the other two?" Steele said in an interview with the Courier Journal.

Meanwhile, Judge David Williams, who sentenced Baker to prison, said that the case against Baker was airtight.

"I’ve never seen a more compelling or complete case," Williams told the Courier Journal. "The evidence was just overwhelming."

Bevin, however, told the Courier Journal that he believed the evidence against Baker was "sketchy" and that Baker had a drug addiction problem that "resulted in his association with people that in turn led to his arrest, prosecution and conviction for murder."

Baker was one of a number of murderers and rapists whom Bevin pardoned in his final days as governor.

Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear, who was sworn in as governor of Kentucky on Tuesday. As one of his first acts in office, Beshear will sign a bill restoring voting rights to more than 100,000 nonviolent felons.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.