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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  • by roger Location: hopkinsville on Jan 18, 2010 at 02:24 PM
    To the people commenting and putting Gov. Fletcher down should get their facts straight first,He was a very good Governor and did a great job.
  • by Ann Location: Eastern, Ky on Jul 9, 2008 at 08:23 AM
    I don't know if Pike, Floyd, or some of the Eastern counties supported him, but they sure were against them in the end. Nobody seems to be from this area though. Wonder why people who are elected from the other end of the state realize it's off the labor of our backs that Lexington and Louiville, have what they do. Patton funneled money back to the coal counties from the taxes that come from the coal fields, but Fletcher, and now Beshear has taken it again to feed the other side of the state, while we live without running water in thousands of homes. They take it hostage so that they use it for their buildings and pork down state. Beshear is turning out to have a terrible vote of confidence just like Fletcher. Cutting education was his first agenda to be cut. Sounds like a real winner.
  • by Tired of Ignorance on Jul 8, 2008 at 06:58 PM
    Good job Kentucky. This is what you get for not knowing who you are voting for and electing a democrat just because you were tired of having a Republican. Don't get me wrong, I'm not for Republican or Democrat but I'm making the point that our country is too divided by political parties. We blame one another for problems instead of working together to solve them. George Washington himself was against political parties. I guess this is why.
  • by Nikk Location: Winchester on Jul 8, 2008 at 03:15 PM
    Some of those pardons seem fine, but others just remind me of why they're not made during a term, or before an election...
  • by Brad Location: Frankfort on Dec 23, 2007 at 10:00 AM
    This is simply ridiculous! That power is way to broad to be given to anyone. How can he, in just a couple of days, decide whether or not somebody was wrongly convicted or whatever then give them a pardon. If any of these people commit another crime then I think that Ernie or any other governor should be both criminally and financially accountable for the stupidity that they showed by letting these folks go.
  • by t. Location: louisville on Dec 13, 2007 at 04:27 PM
    I am a relative of the victim murdered by James Slaughter aka Jeffrey Leonard (who changed his name when he began his appeals process). Our family is appalled that we received no notification that about this death penalty pardon prior to hearing about it in the media Tuesday morning. The image portrayed of James Slaughter in the papers is not the reality our family knows. This is the first we have heard of Mr. Slaughter's "brain-damage". His appeals were denied numerous times -- Ernie Fletcher owes our family an explanation. Slaughter robbed our Aunt's store and stabbed her several times and left her to die on the front stoop of the store entrance. This is cold blooded murder, the jury and appeals judges found the evidence fit the sentence. Something must be done to ensure that the victim's family is properly notified before a pardon is issued and that a valid explanation is provided -- we deserve and demand that!! No one should ever have to live through the pain we have endured.
  • by Jim Location: Clay City on Dec 12, 2007 at 09:05 AM
    Remember this. The foreman of the grand jury that indicted the four men whom Gov. Paul Patton pardoned described the governor's decision as "a disgrace to the jury system." "We worked on that case for 17 months," said Rodney Raby, foreman of the 1995 special Franklin County grand jury. If the grand jury had thought the men were innocent, he said, "we would not have indicted them. It just shows that the power of the governor to pardon is way too broad," he told a Lexington newspaper.
  • by KJ Location: LONDON on Dec 12, 2007 at 06:41 AM
    WONDER WHAT KIND OF MONEY HE GOT FOR FREEING DRUNKEN DRIVER THAT KILLED THAT STUDENT STATE REP SON YOU KNOW THERE WAS MONEY INVOLVED IN THAT ONE
  • by E-Bay on Dec 12, 2007 at 05:48 AM
    Did I see a auction on e-bay Pardons for-sale for more info. call the KY governors mansion at 1-800-make me richer this is only a advertisement!
  • by c Location: fkt on Dec 12, 2007 at 05:06 AM
    If any of the murders, commit another murder, then Mr. Fletcher should be tried along side them for complicity to commit murder! You don't let cold blooded killers back on the streets to repeat their crimes! I hope the judicial system will remember that it was Mr. Fletcher that let these people go. So much for a trial by jury. Mr Fletcher seems to know more about the case than the 12 people who heard the evidence! I don't think the governor should be able to do away with the punishment that these people recieved by a jury of their peers! What he is saying by this action is: "Go ahead, it's okay to murder people, I'll let you go so you can continue to kill others"! I'm glad he isn't governor anymore! He's a joke and has set himself up as God! I hope he can look the victim's families in the face but I doubt that he even cares about the victims or their families! He only cares about himself!
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