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Family's Fundraising For Bevin Unrelated To Pardon, Attorney Argues

An attorney for a man at the center of a controversial pardon issued by former Gov. Matt Bevin addressed reporters Tuesday – taking aim at suggestions that the action could have been linked to his family’s fundraising efforts for the former governor. 

Credit Josh James

"Still kind of in disbelief. It's kind of like a dream."

That’s how Patrick Baker described his feelings after learning he’d been pardoned by former Gov. Matt Bevin. But a cloud has hung over his release, as reports immediately surfaced that Baker’s family had raised more than $20,000 for the Bevin campaign.

Baker was convicted of reckless homicide, tampering with evidence, and other charges in 2017, but Bevin wrote in his pardon letter that the evidence was “sketchy at best.”

Tuesday, attorney Eliot Slosar told reporters Baker is innocent, DNA and eyewitness evidence would exonerate him, and Kentucky State Police officers are at fault.

"While people want to look at a fundraiser, what they really should really be looking at is whether the people with badges in this state should really have those badges," Slosar said. 

The lawyer directed much of his fire at KSP officers Bryan Johnson and Jason York and called for the governor and attorney general to investigate the officers for misconduct. He went on to say Baker initiated the pardon request process before his family donated to Bevin and questioned why anyone would attempt to bribe the former governor in such a public fashion.

"Frankly if you were going to pay off somebody who's a politician, you probably wouldn't do it in a formal way where you disclose that to anybody in the state who wants to go on the government website and find out that you had a fundraiser," the attorney added. 

In a statement, state police say the Baker case received a thorough review, the KSP supports the guilty verdict, and no official complaints were filed with KSP about the investigation of the case.

"The Baker case was reviewed by our agency all the way through our command staff to the commissioner level," the statement reads. 

Slosar said Baker and his family have been besieged by phone calls and media attention since he was released last Wednesday, and are examining legal options to challenge hs conviction. 

Copyright 2019 WUKY

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now known as Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and Program Director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.