Hopefully, you got the chance to watch the Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling classic crime thriller, “Fracture”. If you did, you probably chuckled at how Gosling’s character tricked Hopkins into setting himself up.
Hopkins played Ted Crawford, a wealthy Irish aeronautical engineer. Crawford was a really, really smart fellow, or so he thought. Crawford murdered his wife. The self-proclaimed genius laid an intricate series of traps for prosecutors. Crawford went to trial, but was acquitted.
Boasting of double jeopardy protection, he became rather brazen. However, there was a minor problem. The charge he was acquitted of didn’t match the ultimate charge that brought the film to its climactic close. Without divulging the plot, we’ll just share that Crawford got schooled.
Well, although he wasn’t actually charged with the same criminal offense twice, one Kentucky man experienced “Double Jeopardy” or the lack thereof under a particular aspect of federal law. According to U.S. law, you cannot be charged twice for the same crime.
Tommie Lee Jones movie buffs know it as “Double Jeopardy”. However, Patrick Baker just found out there are a few trick plays within the legal system that prosecutors can use to seek true justice. Baker served only 30 months of a 19-year sentence for killing a drug dealer.
Now, before you judge Donald Mills as possibly deserving of what he got, you need to understand the circumstances under which Baker shot Mills. Mills was a drug dealer, this much is true. However, Mills was at his own home in Stinking Creek, Kentucky.
It was Baker who faked that he was a U.S. Marshall to gain access into Mills’ home. Baker shot Mills dead and then held Mills’ pregnant wife and children at gunpoint. He ravaged the home looking for Oxycontin pills.
Baker was charged with reckless homicide and first-degree robbery. Prosecutors also charged Baker with tampering with evidence and impersonating a police officer. He was convicted and sentenced to 19 years in a Kentucky state prison.
Well, it appears Baker had some inside connections to the Kentucky Governor’s mansion. Outgoing Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin pardoned Baker after he had served only 2½-years. Baker was one of hundreds of pardons Bevin issued before exiting the Governor’s Mansion.
Baker must have felt like he skirted justice. He should have enlisted a better defense team. A U.S. District Attorney just shipped Baker back to prison, this time to federal prison. After Bevin lost in the recent election, he started to seemingly issue haphazard pardons.
However, many were linked to wealthy political connections. Seems the good governor may have been a bit corrupt. Bevin also pardoned a convicted sex offender whose mom just happened to be the wife of a wealthy Kentucky road contractor.
Kentucky’s Attorney General thought many of these were suspicious. Therefore, he requested an FBI investigation. From the looks of things, he was rightfully suspicious. Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, spoke about Baker’s new sentence.
Shier contends, “Baker was convicted of a brazen act of violence – one that resulted in a murder, committed while the victim's family was nearby.” The pardon didn’t seem to fit the crime. Well, similar to Theodore Crawford’s fictional crime, Baker got more than he bargained for.
Double jeopardy is an essential part of U.S. law. It’s there to protect the innocent, or to keep corrupt judicial systems from charging people multiple times for the same offense. However, it’s not a scapegoat defense mechanism to get away with murder.
Likewise, it won’t get you out of paying your debt to society if convicted. Seems Patrick Baker’s legal counsel should have explained that little detail more thoroughly. Now he’s looking at twice the sentence he got the first time. Maybe he should have just kept quiet and done his time.