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In Last Day In Office, KY Gov. Matt Bevin Pardons Man Who Beheaded Woman And Stuffed Her In a Barrel

On Monday, departing Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned and commuted the sentence of a man who was convicted of beheading a woman and stuffing her dismembered body in a barrel, local publication Kentucky.com reported Thursday night.

It was a brutal murder. The coroner couldn’t tell if Betty Carnes, a mother of three, was killed by asphyxiation or by the eight blows to her head that her killer, Delmar Partin, delivered with a metal pipe. But it was very clear that her head was then chopped off and placed on her lap in a 55-gallon barrel that was destined for a toxic waste site at the factory where they both worked in Barbourville.

Bevin said he pardoned Partin because potential DNA evidence had not been tested, according to the report.

“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.

The prosecutor on the case, Tom Handy, said he hasn’t been this angry in a long time. He called the governor’s pardon “mystifying.”

“I think its arrogance of one who has a God-like image of himself,” Handy said of Bevin. “And a lack of concern for anybody else.”

The pardon was just one of several controversial pardons and commutations Bevin issued in his final days in office. The list includes several in Handy’s old district, including a teacher, Charles Doug Phelps, who pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and tampering with a witness.

Jackie Steele, the current commonwealth’s attorney in Knox and Laurel counties, cited several other pardons in his jurisdiction that made him unhappy.

One of them was Patrick Baker, who was one of three men convicted of a murder in Knox County in 2014. Baker’s sentence was commuted, but the other two men remain in prison. Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held a fundraiser in 2018 for Bevin that raised $21,500, and personally contributed $4,000.

“This is a travesty of our justice system,” Steele said. “When you have law enforcement and prosecutors and families who sludge through this process…. when they do get justice and he turns around and does something like this? It’s a travesty.”

Bevin’s former chief of staff, Blake Brickman, did not respond to a text message asking if either he or Bevin would comment on the hundreds of pardons and commutations Bevin issued in the final days of his administration, which ended Monday night.


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