My former home state of Kentucky just had a change at the governor’s mansion, as Andy Beshear succeeded Matt Bevin. Bevin’s term in office was marked by controversy, bizarre statements, and what can only be described as demagoguery. Even his fellow Republicans in the state legislature expressed significant discomfort with his administration.
On his way out the door, Bevin issued hundreds of pardons and commutations, as he of course had the authority to do (although in another former home state, this once got the outgoing gov in serious trouble.) Some of them have drawn attention, such as his pardon of a convicted murderer whose relatives happened to be involved in fundraising for Bevin’s campaign, and his pardon of a man from my old region who was convicted of raping … well, I’ll let the Cincinnati Enquirer explain:
He pardoned Micah Schoettle, who was convicted last year of raping a 9-year-old child in Kenton County and sentenced last year to 23 years in prison.
Bevin wrote that Schoettle was convicted of a heinous crime “based only on testimony that was not supported by any physical evidence.” He added that the case “was investigated and prosecuted in a manner that was sloppy at best. I do not believe that the charges against Mr. Schoettle are true.”
But that explanation infuriated Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders, who prosecuted Schoettle.
“So, I guess Matt Bevin thinks he’s smarter than the 12 citizens that heard the actual evidence,” Sanders said. “I’ve got news for him: Child molesting rarely happens in front of witnesses or leaves physical evidence. If we didn’t pursue those cases, 99% of child rapists would never be prosecuted.”
“This irresponsible manipulation of the justice system is why the public’s confidence is constantly eroded,” Sanders added. “No one from the Bevin administration gave any warning this was coming. If they had, we’d have shown them why these rapists and killers were behind bars to begin with. These pardons regurgitate false statements of defense attorneys that juries of Kentucky citizens obviously didn’t believe.”
But that wasn’t what got my heart racing this morning. Another line in the report said that Bevin had pardoned “a man who killed his parents.” As it turned out, the beneficiary was not my brother; it was a man who committed his crimes in 2003, at the age of 16. And I could breathe again.