Matt Bevin, the outgoing Trump-loving governor of Kentucky who was voted out of office earlier this month, does not have much time left in his tenure.
In the time he does have left, however, he has decided to pardon a man who is serving a life sentence after being convicted of sexually abusing and sodomizing his 6-year-old stepdaughter.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Bevin has issued a full pardon to Paul Donel Hurt, who in 2001 was convicted of three counts of sodomy in the first degree and two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree.
Bevin justified the pardon by saying many observers, including the judge who oversaw Hurt’s sentencing, believe that he was wrongfully convicted.
Although Hurt’s accuser recanted her testimony in 2015, courts have questioned the consistency of her new story and the influence of a retired judge in influencing her testimony.
“The trial court did not set aside the conviction, with the Jefferson Circuit Judge Audra Jean Eckerle ruling that her recantation was an inconsistent, ‘shifting account’ that was ‘no more likely to be true than false,'” reports the Courier-Journal. “The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in August 2018, noting that after the retirement of Jefferson Circuit Judge Stephen Mershon — the judge in the original conviction — he began corresponding with Hurt in prison and contacted the victim, after which time she recanted.
According to the Courier-Journal, Judge Eckerle “contended that Mershon ‘altered’ the victim’s memory, “and by using judicial coercion and intimidation, that he overcame her, causing her to claim falsely that she had lied (at) trial.”