Fletcher Pardons 83 People

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Ernie Fletcher commuted the sentences of three convicted murderers, including a death row inmate, and pardoned more than 80 other people on Monday, his last day in office.

Among those who received commuted sentences was Jeffrey Devan Leonard, a brain-damaged Louisville man who has spent nearly 25 years on Kentucky's death row. Leonard had exhausted his appeals of a conviction in the 1983 murder of Louisville consignment store owner Esther Stewart and was in line to have an execution date set.

Fletcher's action won't free Leonard. He still must serve life without the possibility of parole, said Fletcher's general counsel, David Fleenor.

Ernie Lewis, executive director of the Department of Public Advocacy, praised Fletcher for commuting Leonard's sentence.

"By his decision, the governor has acted with conviction, compassion and courage," Lewis said. "Executing Jeffrey Leonard would have been a significant and irrevocable injustice."

Lewis said Leonard was represented by a disbarred and indicted lawyer who did not even know his client's real name.

Fletcher also commuted the 20-year sentence of a state lawmaker's son who was convicted of killing a 62-year-old pedestrian while driving drunk in 2005.

Harrison Yonts - whose father, Brent Yonts, is a state representative from western Kentucky - was convicted in February on a charge of wanton murder in the death of Nadia Shaheen, a graduate student at Murray State University who was walking home from the campus computer lab when she was struck.

The jury also convicted Yonts, 21, of drunken driving, leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with physical evidence. Yonts would have had to serve 17 years before becoming eligible for parole. Under his commuted sentence, Yonts will have to serve only eight years, Fleenor said.

A third man, Demond Brown of Hopkinsville, who was serving 20 years for wanton murder after a collision that killed two people in Christian County, will be freed from prison as soon as the paperwork is filed. Fleenor said Brown is "mildly retarded" and that he should not have been sent to prison for what was essentially a horrible accident.

"We were as fair as we could be," Fleenor said Monday evening. "There will be people who feel like they should have gotten a pardon and didn't. There will be victims out there who feel like pardons shouldn't be issued, and there will be prosecutors who will be taking my name in vain."

Fleenor said the people who received gubernatorial pardons had been convicted in years past on a variety of offenses but that all had since completed their sentences.

Fletcher had already pardoned nine women, most of whom were convicted of killing abusive husbands. Those pardons, announced Sunday, were Fletcher's first since those he offered to his entire administration in the wake of an indictments related to a grand jury probe into alleged illegal patronage.

Fletcher, an ordained Baptist minister whose term ends at midnight on Monday, said he opted to pardon the women "based on their individual circumstances."

Public defender Marguerite Neill-Thomas said in most of the cases the women had lived in fear of abusive husbands.

Granted pardons were:

Jonathan Ray Kirby of Morgantown

Ronald W. Lindsey of Corbin

Daryl Howard Littrell of Bromley

Michael Jay Lundy of Louisville

Raymond Banks of Campton

Pamela Sue Luttrell of Versailles

Donna Mae Dublin of Mayfield

Charles Warren Headley of Hartsville

Lucy Hooper Grillo of Lexington

Patrick Michael Foley of Charleston, S.C.

Charles M. Flora of Versailles

David Cotton of Elkton

Albert C. Cole of Elkton

Christopher Alan Champion of Mayfield

John Eugene Campbell of Lawrenceburg

Dewey Campbell of Stanton

Cordis A. Brown of Stanton

Sherri Lynne Brooks of Walton

Catherine A. Bendl of Louisville

Roger Dale Hancock of Hopkinsville

Elmer Hensley of Hyden

Dorine Liebengood of Berea

Frank Harscher III of Lexington

Robert Witt Johnson of Irvine

Paul Gordon Johnson of Winchester

Clarence William Jarvis of Central City

Lowell Dean Howard of Middlesboro

Margaret R. Newsome of Versailles

Timothy Kyle Merritt of Louisville

Ronald Wayne McKenney of Georgetown

James Allen Baker of Frenchburg

John Lesler Barnes II of Jeffersonville

Angela Dawn Curtis of Wickliffe

Desmon Keith Dalton of Somerset

Sammy Goble Doles of Eddyville

Georgene Duke of Louisville

Fred Ira Dunn of Pineville

Michelle Joy Edrington of Louisville

Anne E. Euin of Goshen

Harry Wallace Garland Jr. of Hope Hull, Ala.

Eric Dean Gribbins of Campbellsville

Dale Thomas Hargrove of Hopkinsville

Anthony Charles Call of Bardstown

Billy Ray Burns of London

Craig Daniel Burgie of Benton

Sherri Ann Proffitt of Hestand

William Keith Patterson of Windsor

Leroy Lunsford Jr. of Stanford

Eric Lynn Wells of Nortonsville

John E. Steffey of Glasgow

Alexander Felkel Shuler of Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Jack Shepherd of Printer

James Richard Scott of Morehead

Sheila Y. Rucker of Louisville

Sammie Edward Adams of Tompkinsville

Charles G. Riley Jr. of East Bernstadt

Jesse Raymond Jones of Magnolia

Thomas Edward Perry of Lincoln, Ill.

Martin Daniel Perrea of Parkville, Missouri

Jack Shepherd of Printer

Teresa Susan Jones of Magnolia

Edward Alan King of Pine Knot

Darryl Wayne Geis of Lexington

Bryan Scott Denton of Gilbertsville

Hyram Mitchell Page of Tompkinsville

George Moorman of Lexington

Larry J. Pitcock of Tompkinsville

Edward N. Booze of Louisville

Richard Leroy Woodyard of Fort Thomas

John D. Wolf of Versailles

Marvin Hal Webb of Rineyville

Shelia Bernerdette Thompson of Las Vegas, Nevada

Rickey Dell Thomas of Toldeo, Ohio

Douglas Patrick Healy of Nicholasville

Kenneth Donelson of Murray

Eddie Wayne Todd of Mt. Vernon

Timothy A. Conley of Elk Fork

Alan Powell of Louisville

Marion Ferris McClurg of Quincy

Phillip Maurice Bedford of Louisville

Leonard Hager of Berea

Wayne Roberts of Booneville

George E. Depew of London

Granted commutations were:

Burgiss Harrison Yonts of Greenville

Demon Brown of Hopkinsville

Jeffrey Devan Leonard of Louisville

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