He was originally sentenced to 19 years before the questionable pardon by former Governor Matt Bevin.
A Kentucky killer has been sentenced to 42 years for a crime he was already pardoned for.
Patrick Baker had served just 30 months of his original 19-year sentence for the 2014 killing of drug dealer Donald Mills, when he was pardoned by outgoing Governor Matt Bevin — with whom his family had political connections.
But on Friday, the US District Attorney announced that Baker was heading back to prison for the same murder — and the new sentence is more than twice as long.
Under US law, no person can be punished twice for the same crime: the Double Jeopardy Clause. But per the Supreme Court's "dual sovereignty" doctrine, state and federal prosecutors can separately punish the same person for the same actions.
According to prosecutors, Baker shot and killed 29-year-old Mills on May 9, 2014 during an armed home invasion in Stinking Creek, after Baker posed as a United States Marshal to gain entry. Mills' pregnant wife and children were held at gunpoint while Baker ransacked the home for oxycodone pills.
In 2017, he was convicted of reckless homicide, first-degree robbery, tampering with evidence and impersonating a police officer, and sentenced to 19 years in state prison.
But late in 2019, just 30 months into his sentence, Baker was suddenly pardoned by outgoing Governor Bevin — one of hundreds he made between his electoral defeat on November 5, and his final day in office on December 9.
The pardons — which also included a convicted sex offender whose mother was married to a millionaire road contractor, as NBC News reported — raised many eyebrows. The Kentucky Attorney General even formally requested the FBI to investigate.
It emerged, via a Courier Journal investigation, that the year before, Baker's family had hosted a fundraiser for Bevin at their home — attended by the Governor himself — collecting $21,500 for him. Some $9,500 of the donations came from people with the surname Baker. Patrick Baker's sister-in-law and father even donated a further $2,000 to Bevin's re-election campaign the following year.
Following his initial release, Baker denied Bevin was bribed, and praised him "for his courageous actions and allowing me to come home to my family."
"It's been a long journey, it's been rough," Baker told the Courier Journal. "The pardon was never paid for by my family... You're more than welcome to look into that."
In the end, federal prosecutors did have another look into the case.
"The simple truth of this case is that Patrick Baker was found guilty of planning and committing an armed home invasion, to acquire drugs, where he shot and killed Donald Mills," said Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. "Baker was convicted of a brazen act of violence – one that resulted in a murder, committed while the victim's family was nearby."
Baker will now serve 39.5 years in federal penitentiary, after having 30 months trimmed off for the time he already spent in state prison.
Donald Mills' sister Melinda, who was in court, told WYMT she was satisfied with the decision.
"I would like to say thank you to lame-duck Matt Bevin for giving him the pardon," she said. "Was it worth that risk to go back and double his time now? Look what he's got."