Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin took to Twitter Friday night to defend himself against allegations that a last-minute set of pardons that he issued, including to some individuals convicted of heinous and gruesome crimes, were motivated by financial or political considerations.
Bevin narrowly lost the 2019 election for Governor of Kentucky, following which the Republican made a number of unsubstantiated claims about the election, and refused to concede. However, after calls from within his own party to concede, Bevin backed down, and Democrat Andy Beshear was sworn in as Governor on December 10.
In the days and weeks leading up to his ouster as Governor, Bevin issued a series of controversial pardons, as The Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Some of the people he pardoned had been convicted of particularly heinous crimes. For example, one pardon was issued to Delmar Partin, who was convicted of beheading a woman and stuffing her in a barrel. Another was given to Kathy Ann Harless, who left her newborn baby to die in an outhouse. Micah Schoettle, who was convicted last year of raping a child and sentenced to 23 years in prison, was also pardoned, as was Dayton Jones, who was convicted in 2016 of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy; and Patrick Baker, who was convicted of reckless homicide in 2017.
As it turns out, at least one pardon might not have been entirely on the up-and-up; at least, that’s the accusation being made by some Bevin accusers.
The family of Patrick Baker had held a fundraiser for Bevin and had donated money to his campaign, according to KTLA-TV.
“This reeks of political favoritism,” said Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey of the pardon.
Others are suggesting that Kentucky communities are less safe because of the pardons, whether allegedly informed by political considerations or not.
Bevin, for his part, is insisting that his pardons came from his desire to do the right thing by people who may not have been properly convicted, or who have already paid their debts to society.
In a series of tweets, he admitted that he is not perfect, but that justice demands that everyone be given a fair shot. He claims that he thoroughly researched all of the cases of those he pardoned, with a view towards inconsistencies or other issues in their cases that might have cast their cases into doubt. For other individuals, he admitted that they simply deserved a second chance.
“We are blessed to be Americans, living in a land that offers the possibility of a second chance for those who have ruined their first one,” he tweeted.
In addition to the violent criminals he pardoned, Bevin also pardoned hundreds of other people who were doing time, or who had done time, for non-violent drug possession.