Judge stops release of pardoned KY man facing new murder charge

·2 min read

A judge held off on releasing a Kentucky man from jail who was pardoned on a state homicide conviction but faces a new federal murder charge.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram kept Patrick Baker in custody after a hearing Wednesday, based on a prosecutor’s objection to his release.

Ingram issued a decision Tuesday outlining pretrial release conditions for Baker, including home incarceration with electronic monitoring of his whereabouts.

Federal prosecutors had argued Baker would pose a potential threat to the community if released before trial, but Ingram said in his decision that strict bond conditions would “sufficiently mitigate the evident danger risks.”

On Wednesday, however, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jenna Reed objected to Ingram’s decision and asked that it be revoked in order to keep Baker in jail until trial.

Reed also asked that the release order be put on hold while prosecutors appeal the decision to a higher judge.

Ingram ordered Baker detained after the hearing Wednesday.

Baker, 43, was convicted of reckless homicide in the death of a Knox County drug dealer shot twice in the chest as two men tried to rob him of money and pain pills.

A judge sentenced him to 19 years in prison in December 2017, but just two years later, then-Gov. Matt Bevin commuted Baker’s sentence and pardoned him.

Many of the hundreds of commutations and pardons Bevin granted in his final days in office were controversial, but Baker’s drew particular attention because members of his family had held a fundraiser for Bevin in 2018.

A federal grand jury indicted Baker on a new charge of killing Donald Mills during the commission of a drug offense. Baker has been in jail since being arrested May 30.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Reed said several factors argue for keeping Baker locked up pending trial, including the potential for him to be sentenced to death or life in prison if he is convicted, a history of violence and weapon use in Mills’ death, a history of abusing drugs and a lack of employment.

Ingram said in his initial decision that it weighed in Baker’s favor that he had no reported violations while on bond for more than three years before his trial in the state case, but Reed said the decision gave Baker too much credit for that.