Five convicted of murder among those pardoned by former Governor Bevin
Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, has issued dozens of pardons as his final acts as governor. Among the pardons are five people convicted of murder.
One of them was convicted in a deadly robbery in Knox County.
Patrick Brian Baker was convicted in 2017 of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer, and tampering with physical evidence.
Baker was one of five people charged in the violent home invasion that happened in May of 2014 in the Scalf community, resulting in the death of Donald Mills.
In that trial, prosecutors made the argument that Baker was the man who pulled the trigger, killing Mills when he and the other suspects, pretending to be police officers, burst into the home. Others waited in a car outside the house.
In the pardon, Bevin wrote that Baker "made a series of unwise decisions in his adult life," said his drug addiction ultimately led to his conviction.
Bevin called the evidence in the case "sketchy at best."
The former governor also commuted the sentence and granted a full pardon to a man convicted in a Knox County murder back in 2009.
Daniel Grubb was convicted in 2010 of murder and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Jeremy Johnson.
Police say Grubb killed Johnson and then buried the body following an argument over pulls and money.
The former governor’s pardon states that “no greater degree of justice or rehabilitation will be gained by extending Daniel Grubb’s time in prison. There will, however, be negative impacts of others, not the least of whom is Daniel’s son Chase.”
Also pardoned is a man convicted on two counts of murder in Lincoln County in 2011.
Brett Whittaker was also convicted on an assault charge out of Madison County in 2006.
Bevin’s order states that while there is “no possible sentence that can atone for what has been lost,” during his time of incarceration, Whittaker has transformed “his life spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.” Bevin continues, writing that Whittaker “is a new man ready to return to his community.”
Former Governor Bevin also pardoned Blake Peterson Walker, who was convicted in Adair County of murdering his parents in 2002.
In Bevin's pardon, he states he can't "capture my full thought process as I have weighed the decision of how to handle commutation and pardon" of Walker. He further states that Walker "committed a crime for which only God can provide true forgiveness."
Bevin concludes, however, that Walker is "blessed by a loving and forgiving family and it is this alone that tips the delicate balance in the direction of his request."
A fifth person convicted of murder in Fayette County in 2002, Kurt Smith, has also been pardoned.
Smith was found guilty of wanton murder in the death of his 6-week-old son.
Bevin's pardon says Smith has been "duly punished for his criminal actions more than eighteen years ago."
Also pardoned was Marie Minix, convicted of reckless homicide in 2014 in the death of Roy Prater. Bevin also commuted Gregory Wilson's death row sentence to life in prison.
The pardons were filed in the Secretary of State's Office on Dec. 11, 2019.