UPDATE: Jury selection for Patrick Baker case begins

Update from August 10, 2021:

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A jury selection for the trial of a man who was pardoned by former governor Matt Bevin after only serving two of his 19 year sentence for reckless homicide is underway in London.

On Monday, a federal judge, prosecution and defense teams began questioning a group of potential jurors in the Patrick Baker case.

He’s accused of shooting and killing a drug dealer in Knox County in 2014 in connection to a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone pills, according to court records.

Baker was convicted in state court of reckless homicide in 2017 and was sentenced to 19 years in prison. But after serving two years, then-governor Matt Bevin pardoned Baker.

Bevin said the evidence was “sketchy at best.”

But since that part pardon, federal investigators investigated the case and Baker was indicted by a grand jury in May.

If convicted, Baker could face life in prison since last week prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty, according to a federal court filing.

Baker has maintained his innocence and remains in jail.

Update from August 6, 2021:

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Federal prosecutors won’t seek the death penalty if Patrick Baker is convicted at his upcoming trial, according to a notice filed Friday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna E. Reed.

Baker is accused of shooting and killing a drug dealer in Knox County in 2014 in connection to a conspiracy to distribute oxycodone pills, according to court records.

A jury convicted Baker of reckless homicide in the case in 2017 and he was sentenced to 19-years in prison.  Two years later, outgoing Governor Matt Bevin commuted Baker’s sentence and pardoned him.

Federal authorities later opened a case on Baker and a federal grand jury indicted him this past May.  Baker maintains his innocence.

He’s scheduled to go on trial next week.

Update from July 1, 2021:

LONDON, Ky. (WTVQ) – A man who was pardoned in a state homicide case must stay in jail until his federal murder trial in connection to the same case, according to a judge’s ruling on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom revoked a June order from a magistrate judge that said Patrick Baker could be released on bond to home incarceration with electronic monitoring, according to federal court documents.

Judge Boom ruled there weren’t any set of conditions the court could impose to reasonably assure the safety of the public if Baker was released on bond.  The judge cited testimony from Baker’s former fiancee, Dawn Turner, that the couple abused oxycodone daily when Baker was out of jail on bond between 2014 and 2017 while awaiting his original state trial.  That testimony from Turner wasn’t available when the magistrate judge made his earlier ruling to release Baker on bond, according to court documents.

Judge Boom also noted that Baker concealed the drug use Turner testified about because he told a federal probation officer in June he had been drug-free since 2014, according to the court documents.

Judge Boom wrote in her order that the court had to acknowledge the risk that Baker would again violate the terms of his release, abuse controlled substances, and possibly commit “additional dangerous crimes.”

Baker initially was convicted in state court in 2017 for the 2014 shooting death of Donald Mills in Knox County.  He served two years of a 19-year sentence before being pardoned in late 2019 during the final days of Gov. Matt Bevin’s term.

Bevin wrote that the evidence supporting Baker’s 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.”

It was revealed Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held a political fundraiser for Bevin at their Corbin home in 2018 to help Bevin retire 2015 gubernatorial campaign debt.  Bevin maintains the fundraiser played no role in his decision to pardon Baker.   

Some have asked how Baker can be tried again for the same crime.  Although the Constitution’s protection against double jeopardy says no person shall be prosecuted twice for the same crime, the U.S. Supreme Court says state and federal prosecutors may do just that if the same act is an offense against both governments.

If convicted on the new federal charges, Baker could face life in prison or the death penalty.  Baker maintains his innocence.

 

Original story below from June 1, 2021:

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – U.S. Marshals arrested a 43-year-old Kentucky man Sunday night on a federal indictment in connection with a crime for which he’d already been convicted in state court and then pardoned by former Gov. Matt Bevin.

And the indictment was praised by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Patrick Baker remains in the Laurel County Detention Center, where he was booked in at 12:16 a.m. Monday, pending arraignment in U.S. District Court in London at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday before Magistrate Judge Hanly Ingram.

He was named Thursday in a sealed indictment (patrick baker indictment) charging him with the federal crime of causing the death of a person while committing a robbery or kidnapping related to drug trafficking.

Donald Mills was killed during a home invasion.

The investigation preceding the indictment was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives and the Kentucky State Police.  The indictment was presented to the grand jury by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna E. Reed. 

If convicted, Baker faces up to life in prison or the death penalty and a $250,000 fine, according to federal court documents.

During his COVID briefing Tuesday afternoon, Beshear praised the indictment when asked about it by the media.

“I believe it is good news that federal prosecutors stepped up and indicted this individual,” Beshear said, noting the previous administration (Bevin) apparently didn’t do “its homework” into the facts in the case.

Beshear closed by suggesting other cases that resulted in pardons might need to be revisited and the federal prosecutors should “keep it up.”

Baker initially was convicted in 2017 for the 2014 shooting death of Donald Mills with a Kel-tec 9 mm handgun in Knox County. He served two years of a 19-year sentence before being pardoned in late 2019 during the final days of Bevin’s term.

It was revealed Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held a political fundraiser for Bevin in 2018.  Bevin maintains the fundraiser played no role in his decision to pardon Baker.    

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