Defeated governor pardons man convicted of decapitating woman and stuffing her body into barrel

Outgoing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin commuted the sentence on Monday of a man who had been convicted of decapitating a woman and disposing of her body in a 55-gallon barrel.

In a statement, Bevin explained his pardon of Delmar Partin, who was convicted in 1994 for the murder of Betty Carnes, a mother of three and a co-worker of Partin’s at a factory.

“Given the inability or unwillingness of the state to use existing DNA evidence to either affirm or disprove this conviction, I hearby pardon Mr. Partin for this crime and encourage the state to make every effort to bring final justice to the victim and her family,” Bevin wrote on Monday, his last day in office.

The coroner who testified in the case said he could not determine whether Carnes had died due to asphyxiation or from the blows to her head she sustained when Partin hit her with a metal pipe, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.

In 2008, Partin, who prosecutors said killed Carnes because he was angry that she had ended their love affair, asked a circuit court to perform DNA testing in the case. The Court of Appeals denied that request, however, with Justice Laurance VanMeter ruling that the “evidence as a whole was sufficient to uphold the jury’s verdict and the trial court’s denial of a directed verdict,” the Herald Leader reported.

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin. (Photo: Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

Since his November defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear, Bevin has issued 428 pardons, many of them controversial. In addition to pardoning Partin, he has set free a convicted child rapist, a man convicted of murdering his parents, and a mother who tossed her newborn baby into the trash at a flea market, the Louisville Courier Journal reported. In addition, Bevin pardoned a man convicted in a 2014 home invasion and homicide whose brother had raised $21,500 for Bevin’s reelection campaign, the Courier Journal reported.

When Trump campaigned alongside Bevin on Nov. 4, the president praised him as being tough on crime and supportive of gun rights.

“He’s such a pain in the ass, but that’s what you want!” Trump had exclaimed.

Asked about his pardons by the Washington Post, Bevin tried to put them in a positive light.

“I’m a big believer in second chances,” he told the Post in a message last week. “I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life.”

Two Democratic Kentucky lawmakers have asked incoming state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to investigate Bevin’s spree of pardons.

The state already has a new governor, as Beshear was sworn in on Tuesday.

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