LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Kentucky man who received a controversial pardon from then-Gov. Matt Bevin has been rearrested and federally charged.
Patrick Baker pled not guilty in federal court on Tuesday afternoon.
He was originally found guilty in 2017 for his role in the death of Donald Mills. The jury sentenced Baker to 19 years in prison, but he only served two years before Bevin pardoned him.
Bevin cited the evidence supporting Baker's conviction is "sketchy at best."
However, the pardon was controversial because Baker's family held a fundraiser for Bevin the year before, according to the Courier Journal.
Baker maintained his innocence after his release and thanked Bevin for the pardon.
"I just want to thank Mr. Bevin for his courageous actions and allowing me to come home to my family," said Baker.
Baker also said his family's donations didn't have anything to do with his pardon.
"The pardon was never paid for by my family," said Baker. "That's something you all - I mean, common sense can tell you that - but you're more than welcome to look into that."
That upset the Mills family who told LEX 18 at the time that they're angry with Bevin.
"It's anger," said Melina Mills at the time. "I'm not going to lie about it. It's very upsetting. It is anger. Everybody has very hard feelings at Matt Bevin."
But for 1.5 years, the Mills family couldn't do anything besides wait and hope. And this weekend, they got the phone call they were hoping for.
"We were on a fishing trip. As we were leaving the motel room at 9:56 yesterday, that's when the ATF agent called me," said Melinda Mills in an interview with LEX 18 on Tuesday. "And he's like 'Melinda,' and I'm like 'yeah?' And he said, 'Patrick's in custody.'"
Mills said at first, she didn't know it was for her brother's death. She said the federal agent had to explain it to her.
"He said 'for Donald's murder.' He said 'he's got federal charges for murder of Donald - your brother,'" said Mills.
The federal indictment against Baker says he "did unlawfully cause the death of Donald Mills through the use of a firearm."
Baker also faces a drug trafficking charge related to a "conspiracy to distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, a schedule II controlled substance," according to the indictment.
So, the Mills family sees this as a chance for justice. And the way they got the news makes them think it was a sign from Donald Mills himself.
"It couldn't have happened in a better way than it happened yesterday - how we got notified," said Melinda Mills.
She explained that she was going fishing, which is something Donald loved to do, with her nephew - Donald's eldest son.
"[Donald] loved his fishing- as we were doing yesterday. I was out of state," said Mills. "I was going fishing with his oldest son who is now 18 and just graduated high school last week."
The charges Baker now faces come with the possibility of tough punishment. If he is convicted, Baker faces up to life in prison or the death penalty.