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Jul. 9—A man convicted of reckless homicide and later pardoned by former Governor Matt Bevin, but now faces federal charges stemming from the same incident, will remain in custody following a decision by a U.S. District Court Judge last week.
In her decision, U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Bloom, revoked a previous ruling made by Magistrate Judge Hanly A. Ingram in which Patrick Baker, 43, would be eligible for bond ahead of his trial scheduled for August 11.
Baker was found guilty of reckless homicide, first-degree robbery, impersonating a peace officer and tampering with physical evidence by a Knox County jury in 2017 for his role in the 2014 shooting and killing of Donald Mills. Baker was originally indicted and charged with murder, but was found guilty of the lesser reckless homicide charge.
Baker served only two years of his 19-year sentence as on Dec. 6, 2019, former Gov. Bevin issued a pardon on Baker's behalf. Baker was then later arrested again and indicted on a federal charge of murder in a drug deal in May of this year.
During Baker's arraignment on June 1, the prosecuting United States moved that Baker remain in detention until his jury trial. A detention hearing was then scheduled for June 4 after which Judge Ingram ruled the defense had sufficiently rebutted the United States' motion. A status conference was then scheduled for June 9 where it would be confirmed that any firearms in the residence Baker was ordered to stay in were removed, and that any controlled substances in the home had been reasonably secured from Baker.
However, prior to the status conference, the United States filed an objection to Judge Hanley's decision citing newly discovered evidence obtained on June 14 previously unknown to the government. That evidence was Baker's former girlfriend, Dawn Turner, informing law enforcement that Baker had regularly abused oxycodone during his pre-trial release during his state trial.
The Court then conducted a hearing on June 22, for the limited purpose of determining whether the United States had satisfied the standard for reopening a detention hearing. At the hearing, the court ordered both parties to submit post-hearing briefs addressing those issues. In its brief, the defense argued that the court should refrain from considering the new evidence because, "the United States should not be allowed multiple bites of the apple to see if they can eventually obtain the result they seek."
During the June 22 hearing, Turner testified that during Baker's pretrial home incarceration in 2014, Baker lived with her until his trial in 2017. She said that in late 2014, Baker presented her with two oxycodone pills and said she took one-half of a pill while he took the remaining pills. Turner said the two's drug use gradually increased to the point they were using oxycodone "daily, for the most part" and that when the two did not have enough money for oxycodone, they would "fall back on suboxone" to hold them over.
In her 25-page decision, Judge Bloom called Turner's testimony pivotal and said Turner didn't appear to have an "ax to grind." The judge wrote that she believed Turner when she testified that she did not "offer up" her testimony to government agents but rather disclosed it only after specifically being asked about it. Bloom said the court could not ignore this evidence due to the fact Baker's drug abuse precipitated an armed robbery and fatal shooting.
"Stated another way, the drug that [Baker] abused while on pretrial release from late 2014 until his conviction in 2017 is the very drug that led to his state court convictions and the death of Donald Mills," reads Bloom's order. "The Court must acknowledge the risk that [Baker] would again violate the terms of his release, abuse controlled substances, and possibly commit additional dangerous crimes."
And while Bloom concedes that other than Turner's testimony, Baker's previous period of pretrial release is "otherwise unmarred," and that there are no allegations of misconduct after his pardon in 2019, those factors do not outweigh the "obvious risks posed by future drug use."
"Undoubtedly, there are facts in [Baker's] background militating in favor of release," wrote Judge Bloom. "But given the dangerousness and circumstances surrounding the underlying crime, which resulted in the death of Donald Mills, the general dangerousness stemming from substance abuse, and the evidence that [Baker] violated his state pretrial release almost on a daily basis, the Court finds that no conditions of release could reasonably assure the safety of others and the community."
Baker is currently housed in the Laurel County Detention Center.