Outgoing Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin Pardons Convicted Killer Whose Family Hosted Fundraiser For Him And Donated To His Campaign

The outgoing governor of Kentucky pardoned a convicted killer whose family hosted a political fundraiser for him and donated to his campaign.

Republican Matt Bevin left office this week and handed over power to his Democratic successor Andy Beshear. But since losing his re-election race to Beshear in November, Bevin issued 428 pardons and commutations, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

On Friday, Bevin issued a pardon to Patrick Brian Baker, 41, who was convicted in the 2014 death of Donald Mills two years ago. The Times-Tribune reported that a jury convicted Baker in 2017 of reckless homicide, first-degree robbery, impersonating a peace officer and tampering with physical evidence.

Attorney Jackie Steele, who prosecuted Baker and other defendants in the case, told the Courier Journal that he believes Baker is being pardoned while his co-defendants remain in prison because his family has donated generously to Bevin.

Baker's brother and sister in law, Eric and Kathryn Baker, hosted a fundraiser for Bevin at their home in Corbin, Kentucky, in July last year, the newspaper reported.

According to the Courier Journal, the event, held on July 26, 2018, raised $21,500. A photo of Bevin at the fundraiser was published in the local newspaper, the News Journal, days later.

The Kentucky Registry of Election Finance database shows that on the day of the fundraiser, Eric and Kathryn Baker also donated $4,000 to Bevin's campaign. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

Steele told the Courier Journal that two of Baker's co-defendants will remain in prison, while Baker will be freed after serving just two years of his 19-year sentence.

"What makes Mr. Baker any different than the other two?" he said, alleging it's because of the contributions Baker's family have made to Bevin. According to Steele, Baker is the most culpable of the defendants because "he was the one who shot Mr. Mills."

Steele said the pardon has infuriated him, adding that it would be an understatement "to say I am aggrieved." Steele has been contacted for additional comment.

Were it not for Bevin's pardon, Baker would not have been eligible for parole until 2027. The Courier Journal reported, citing Baker's indictment, that Baker and another man posed as police officers to force their way in Mills' home before Baker shot him. They restrained Mills' wife and robbed the house with three children inside.

But in Bevin's pardon order, he said Baker had made "a series of unwise decisions" and his drug addiction had led to his association with people which in turn led to his conviction. Bevin added the evidence against Baker was "sketchy at best" and that he wasn't convinced that Baker was a murderer.

"Patrick Baker is a man who has made a series of unwise decisions in his adult life," the order said, according to the Times-Tribune. "His drug addiction resulted in his association with people that in turn led to his arrest, prosecution and conviction of murder."

It adds: "The evidence supporting his conviction is sketchy at best. I am not convinced that justice has been served on the death of Donald Mills, nor am I convinced that the evidence has proven the involvement of Patrick Baker as a murderer."

The Courier Journal reports that Baker was still at Northpoint Training Center near Danville, Kentucky, on Wednesday.

Bevin, Beshear and the Kentucky Department of Corrections have been contacted for comment.

matt Bevin
Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin speaks before the start of a rally at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, on November 4, 2019. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images