Patrick Baker: 'I did not kill Donald Mills and my family did not pay for my release'
A man pardoned of reckless homicide is defending his pardon.
In 2017, Patrick Baker was sent to prison for reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a peace officer, and tampering with physical evidence. He's now a free man after serving two years of a 19-year sentence.
Former Governor Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, pardoned Baker in his final days in office.
“I am grateful for the courageous actions of Governor Bevin,” said Baker in a statement. “After being presented with evidence of my innocence and allegations of misconduct against the police officers in my case, he gave me a chance to have my life back. I hope that the true killer of Donald Mills is ultimately apprehended and that the Mills’ family gets closure in the end by having the right person in prison."
Baker and his attorneys talked to reporters on Tuesday.
Baker's attorney said there was "egregious" police conduct on behalf of Kentucky State Police, who investigated the case.
“People should be investigating whether people with badges should still have badges," said Baker's attorney, Elliott Slosar, with Loevy and Loevy Attorneys at Law.
Slosar claims KSP detectives messed up DNA evidence left at the scene that Slosar says clears Baker of wrongdoing.
“There were handcuffs left at the scene of the crime, Kentucky State Police lab-tested those cuffs and excluded Patrick Baker," said Slosar.
KSP released the following statement on the Baker case:
The Baker case was reviewed by our agency all the way through our command staff to the Commissioner level.
Based upon that review, the results of which were sent to the previous Governor’s office, we feel that this was a thorough investigation.
The Kentucky State Police also support the opinions of the prosecutor and the judge that this was a proper and complete investigation and, furthermore, support the decision of the jury that found Baker guilty.
In the two years since the conviction of Baker, there have been no official complaints filed with the Kentucky State Police regarding the investigation of this case.
A photo from the Corbin News Journal shows Bevin at the home of Eric Baker, Patrick's brother, in July of 2018.
"I did not kill Donald Mills, and my family did not pay for my release," said Baker in a statement.
“The pardon was never paid for by my family," Baker reiterated to reporters Tuesday. "Common sense will tell you that. You’re more than welcome to look into that.”
“Over the past week, relatives of Patrick Baker have been unfairly attacked and accused of ‘paying’ for a pardon. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a fundamental right for citizens to freely support politicians they believe in. The Bakers’ support of Gov. Bevin’s reelection campaign is conducted openly and is neither illegal nor unethical. Above all else, it was unrelated to Patrick’s wrongful conviction,” said Elliot Slosar of Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law, who represents Mr. Baker.
Commonwealth's Attorney Jackie Steele says a jury was unanimous in the verdict against Baker and says the lawsuit against the KSP troopers is only an allegation.
Lawmakers also want a special prosecutor to clarify a contradiction between a statement from Bevin and the sentencing judge in Baker's case.
In the pardon, Gov. Bevin called the evidence against Baker "sketchy at best." But sentencing Circuit Judge David Williams said in 30 years of practice, "I've never seen a more compelling or complete case... the evidence was just overwhelming."
Baker's attorney points out there was a discrepancy between the description of the shooter and Baker.
“The victim’s own mother described a shooter with brown eyes and tattoos. Patrick is a blue-eyed person. I would represent to you he has no tattoos," said Slosar.
Lawmakers also say it's interesting that the others charged in connection to Mill's death are still in prison.