Gov. Matt Bevin defends his pardons in Twitter thread

Former Governor Matt Bevin is defending the hundreds of pardons and commutations he signed in his final days in office.
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WKYT) -- Former Governor Matt Bevin is defending the hundreds of pardons and commutations he signed in his final days in office.

Bevin took to Twitter to speak his mind saying the decision on whether or not to pardon is "never an exact science."

"The myriad statements and suggestions that financial or political considerations played a part in the decision-making process, are both highly offensive and entirely false," wrote Bevin. "To repeat such uncorroborated rumors and lies is reprehensible."

A photo from the Corbin News Journal shows Bevin at the home of Eric Baker, the brother of a man pardoned in July of 2018.

“That the person who got out, his family hosted a fundraiser, not just for a campaign, but to give money personally to the governor, to retire the governor’s campaign debt, is appalling,” said Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, one of the lawmakers behind the push for a special prosecutor to investigate some of the pardons.

"For anyone to question the motives and involvement of anyone else in the administration is highly inappropriate and irresponsible," wrote Bevin.

The former governor said he reviewed hundreds of applications for pardons and commutations and read letters and supporting documents in those cases, including court transcripts, witness testimony, and appeals.

"Not every application that was sent in was able to be fully reviewed," wrote Bevin. "Those that were not reviewed remain in the files for consideration by future governors."

Bevin said many fully-reviewed cases were not granted pardons.

"Contrary to that which has been falsely stated by many, not a single person was released who had not already been scheduled for a specific release date or who was sentenced with the eligibility to be considered for early release," wrote Bevin. "The vast majority of those who were pardoned has actually been out of prison for years and had fully paid their debt to society."

Bevin pardoned one man found guilty of double murder in the killing of a pastor and his wife in Lincoln County.

He pardoned several others convicted of murder, including one case of a deadly home invasion in Knox County.

"Not one person receiving a pardon would I not welcome as a co-worker, neighbor, or to sit beside me or any member of my family in a church pew or at a public event," wrote Bevin. "No community is either more or less safe now, than it was before the pardons and commutations given over the past four years."

“Obviously shows the ignorance of the governor, regarding this case in particular,” said Jackie Steele, the commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted one of the men Bevin pardoned.

"My exact words for Matt Bevin: I know he's out of office, but he can rot in hell. That's exactly how we feel about him," said Melinda Mills, the sister of a murder victim.

"We are blessed to be Americans, living in a land that offers the possibility of a second chance for those who have ruined their first one," wrote Bevin.

There are not many stipulations on who the governor can pardon. Section 77 of Kentucky's constitution grants the governor the power to pardon, except in cases of treason against the state.

Former governors have recognized a seven-year waiting period from the end of a sentence before granting pardons, but that's a preference, not state law. The governor can only grant a partial pardon to a person with federal or out-of-state charges.

"Am I perfect? No, never have been," wrote Bevin. "But I did my very best, over many hours, days, weeks, and years, to reach fair and just decisions."