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A Kentucky inmate who received a pardon from the outgoing governor for a 2014 murder has been charged again for the same crime by the federal government.
Patrick Brian Baker, 42, was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals in Frankfort on Sunday on charges related to the murder of Donald Mills, who was shot to death during a home invasion in Knox County seven years ago.
The arrest and federal charges do not run afoul of the constitutional principle of double jeopardy; that clause protects the exonerated in the U.S. from being charged with the same crime twice. The double jeopardy clause doesn't apply in this case, as the original conviction occurred at the state level and the new charges are federal.
In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that it's constitutional for an accused individual to face state and federal charges for the same crime.
A federal grand jury indicted Baker on charges of “murder, committed during a robbery and kidnapping related to drug trafficking,” according to the Department of Justice. The indictment comes after a federal investigation conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Kentucky State Police.
In 2019, Baker’s was one of 670 pardons and commutations issued by outgoing Gov. Matt Bevin, who had lost an election to then-Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear. The decision by federal prosecutors was praised by Beshear.
“I had grave concerns that our last governor, without doing his homework, and in direct contradiction to such significant evidence, and to a jury that sat there and heard it all, had pardoned someone who the evidence strongly suggests committed murder,” he said, according to The Courier-Journal.
Baker served only two years of a 19-year sentence before his release. Following the pardon, he and his attorney, Elliot Slosar, claimed he'd been framed by Kentucky State Police.
The pardon came under scrutiny when the Courier-Journal reported that Baker’s brother and sister-in-law had hosted a fundraiser for Bevin. According to the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Database, Baker’s relatives gave $4,000 to the former governor's campaign, the paper reported.
Baker was one of five people sentenced for the shooting death of Mills. According to the federal indictment, he had "committed a robbery and kidnapping, during which the death of Donald Mills occurred by use of a firearm and a quantity of pills containing oxycodone were taken.”
Donald Mills's sister, Melinda Mills, told Oxygen.com that she's thankful for the new indictment.
“We’re very blessed and thankful for each person that’s been involved in the investigation," she said. "Especially the KSP Detectives Bryan Johnson and Jason York. Thank you to the ATF, the FBI, Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and Governor Andy Beshear.”
Baker's trial is expected to begin on Aug. 10.
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