The Big Noise Surfaces Unexpectedly

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.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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5 Responses to The Big Noise Surfaces Unexpectedly

  1. Mike Beggs says:

    Sound waves never stop rippling through the universe and rebounding back in the most unexpected ways. Sorry to hear about this bounce back….glad it wasn’t louder. Happens to me all of the time.

  2. I am glad you have no cause for alarm. I can’t imagine the start you had reading that.

  3. Andrew C Stevens says:

    I’ve been hearing a lot in the last decade or so about the “unreliability of eyewitness testimony.” I think this is part and parcel of the “CSI Effect.” Yes, eyewitnesses can be unreliable. If a witness IDs a guy he’s never met before whom he only saw during the commission of the crime, it’s quite possible he’s wrong. But I’ve heard this “unreliability” also applied to entirely inappropriate situations.

    I was listening to a podcast, for example, about the Jeremy Bamber case. Now the eyewitness in question was Jeremy Bamber’s ex-girlfriend who told police that Bamber had confessed the crime to her. The podcasters dismissed eyewitness testimony as “unreliable.” But this is a whole different kettle of fish. She could not possibly be mistaken. She is either telling the truth or lying. Witnesses do lie, of course, but, without being able to weigh her credibility by seeing her testify (which the jury did and convicted Bamber), I just think it’s very implausible that even the most vengeful ex-girlfriend would make up a story accusing her ex of murder.

    This also happened with Adnan Syed. The people convinced of his innocence simply dismiss his accomplice-after-the-fact’s testimony (though, to be fair, that person did tell the police a number of lies in the early investigation to try to avoid implicating himself). They seem to believe that he was leaned on by police to implicate Adnan because, I don’t know, Adnan is Muslim or something (the accomplice-after-the-fact is black). When I ask them how this accomplice-after-the-fact was able to lead police to the victim’s car if he actually was just making everything up, people just look at me blankly.

    Anyway, Bevin may have been listening to this “eyewitnesses are unreliable” drumbeat for too long. In fact, eyewitness testimony is still the gold standard of evidence (though, yes, I believe you can convict on purely circumstantial evidence). Almost all other evidence relies on eyewitness testimony. How do we know how that DNA test came out? An eyewitness tells us. Video/audio evidence may be the only evidence which might be more reliable and even that often needs eyewitnesses to establish its bona fides.

    • profmondo says:

      I think there’s a lot of truth to what you’re saying. In my family’s case, there was significant scientific and circumstantial evidence, but of course, the only surviving witness was Mike. Thanks for your contribution.

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