Matt Bevin, was the outgoing Kentucky governor who had strong ties to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. The avowed Christian nationalist who boasted of his faith went on a pardoning spree after he lost an election. He pardoned murderers, child molesters, sexual abusers, and more. The situation which is a tragedy shows why Christian nationalists are not Pro-Life despite their rhetoric as well.
“I’m a big believer in second chances. I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life.”
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
Esther 4:14 NIV
Betty Carnes worked in the lab of the Tremco Manufacturing Company in Barbourville, Kentucky in the early 1990’s. Tremco made coatings and sealants such as caulk. The mother of three was known as a hard working and dedicated employee. In a heavy religious area she volunteered to work on Sundays to fill a need. At some point in her time at Tremco, Betty had an affair with another co-worker an alligator hunter by the name of Delmar Partin. After a while she decided to end the affair which filled Delmar Partin with rage as he wanted it to continue. For nearly a year he approached Betty against her will and even threatened her. Betty Partin said no and refused to go back to Delmar. Delmar had an anger issue and he eventually decided to murder his co-worker. On his day off Partin showed up at his place of work on Sunday September 26, 1993. Betty took a break at work where she ran into Delmar Partin. He grabbed and hit her on the head with a metal pipe eight times. Then he strangled her to death. He had such contempt that he made her look at him while she was being suffocated. According to an older clipping from the Louisville Courier-Journal what happened next was exceptionally gruesome. As an alligator hunter he knew how to keep blood out of the head and did that with a hook on the female he just murdered. The troubled Tremco employee then took an ax and decapitated his co-worker at work and placed her body in a 55 gallon barrel that was destined to go to a toxic waste location. Partin had placed her head on the lap of the body in the barrel.
When Betty Carnes did not come back from her break co-workers searched for her and could not locate the dedicated co-worker. Later that day when she did not come home from work her concerned family contacted the police and reported her missing. The following day on Monday September 27, 1993 an employee from Tremco was moving the barrels and noticed that one barrel was much heavier than usual. When he examined the barrel he made a grisly discovery. The police were contacted and Delmar was arrested as a suspect in the death of Betty Carnes. In 1994 he was tried and convicted. The person who prosecuted Delmar was Tom Handy who worked hard to find justice for the family of Betty Carnes. Delmar was sentenced to spend the rest of this life in jail for the murder, and abuse of human remains. But Delmar claimed he was innocent and protested. The case went all the way up to the Kentucky Supreme Court who ruled against him. In a desperate attempt he and the Kentucky Innocence Project asked for DNA evidence to be examined by Kentucky who then tuned it down as the evidence was already overwhelming. Delmar Partin came up for parole in 2018 and Betty Carnes daughters testified and the parole board ordered Partin to serve out the remainder of his sentence. The Carne family thought that Partin would be spending his life in prison.
On December 9, 2019 Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin who is a Christian nationalist intervened and commuted Delmar Partin’s sentence and freed him from prison and also pardoned him for the murder he committed. It horrified Kentucky. Tom Handy who prosecuted Partin was stunned and learned of the commutation and pardon when the Lexington, Kentucky newspaper asked him about the pardon. The outgoing Kentucky Governor who lost his re-election bid did not publicly release the list of 428 pardons that he did. It was the Kentucky media who discovered the pardons who then reported on it. Bevin did not ask for expert advice and Bevin did not notify the Carnes family that Delmar Partin was being released. Tom Handy who prosecuted Partin was outraged and described it as “mystifying.” He went on and said, “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.” Handy contacted the family of Betty Carnes and told them the dreadful news in a phone call. The former prosecutor and the daughters of Betty cried on the phone. The Carnes family is very uncomfortable with the spotlight they find themselves in. In addition they are reliving their mother’s murder especially as they still struggle with her loss. As the Carnes daughters grew, graduated, married and had kids and celebrated holidays their mother’s absence was still felt. To the Tribune Live Carnes middle daughter responded to the commutation of the sentence and the pardon. “We never dreamed something like this could happen,” said Carnes’ middle daughter, Tracy Miller, now 41. If you want to read more of the daughter’s reaction you can do so in, “Family of beheaded woman ‘violated’ by Bevin’s pardon. Others say innocent man freed.” But this sad tragedy was made worse by a Governor who embraced Christian nationalism who wore his faith on his sleeve and boasted of his faith.
Who is Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin?
Matt Bevin became Kentucky’s governor in 2016. Bevin is an avowed Evangelical Christian who boasts of his faith. He believes that the odds were against him and God intervened in the election to raise him into the governor’s seat. When he won the election a special worship service was moved from Buck Run Baptist to the convention center to accommodate the evangelicals who supported him. For many evangelicals Bevin was their man, who represented their faith. According to my research Bevin became a Christian when he was 5 and rededicated his life to the Lord when he was 12. Bevin attended Washington and Lee and then went onto Central Michigan University. He and his wife had a large family of 10 children which included adopting several children from Africa. Bevin served in the United States Army and rose the to the rank of Captain. Bevin also had strong ties to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. When his daughter was killed in a car accident in 2003 Beivn and his wife raised money to fund the Bevin Center for Missions Mobilization which opened in 2012. Al Mohler who leads the seminary opened the center by saying the following. “The Bevin family is demonstrating Christian stewardship in its very essence. They are not only continuing a missions vision in honor of their daughter and her memory, but they are doing something that will make a real and immediate difference on the mission fields of the world.” He also was a successful businessman before he got involved in politics.
Bevin lost his primary challenge to Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell in 2014. He embraced the Tea Party movement and emphasized economic issues but upon becoming governor he would be a strong advocate for the evangelical culture wars. His behavior and marriage of theology and politics troubled many. But when he was elected governor many evangelicals in Kentucky were thrilled. Evangelicals controlled the governor’s mansion and he was one of them. On the evening Bevin was elected so elated was Denny Burk that he wrote about Bevin and his connections to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Denny Burk is one of the staunch defenders of complementarian theology among the Neo-Calvinists. You can read that post by Burk in, “Matt Bevin’s family tragedy and strong Christian faith.” Plus the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary did a profile on him as well.
Believing that he had God’s support Bevin set out to make social issues and the evangelical culture wars to be the center of his agenda. He would become the most controversial governor in the United States and raises concerns by atheists and secular humanists because of Bevin’s efforts to create a theocracy. In his four year reign as governor these are some of the topics that Bevin embraced. He visited Ken Ham’s Arc Encounter and is a strong supporter of the controversial literal creationist. In addition when it came to the topic of violence Bevin’s answer was prayer. When it came to gang activity or other crimes in Louisville the answer was prayer. And he proposed prayer teams that would walk in different neighborhoods and just pray. Who needs a police department when you have prayer? In response to a school shooting Bevin called for more prayer. In 2016 he signed a proclamation that declared that 2017 was the “Year of the Bible.” When the Neo-Nazis rioted in Charlottesville, Virginia and there was violence Bevin told a radio host in West Virginia in an interview that the riot happened because the Bible was taken out of schools. Bevin also called Kim Davis who defied the law when it came to marriage certificates a hero. But Bevin’s performance as governor was shoddy. When he ran for re-election he had a massive prayer event by a number of pastors to pray for his re-election. Bevin because of his theology worked at trying to create a theocracy in his tenure as governor. He also proclaimed himself to be deeply Pro-Life and fought legalized abortion as well. And many evangelicals adored him in Kentucky. But when he lost the election he orchestrated a number of pardons to murders, rapists, child molesters and more that were disturbing.
A Series of Controversial Pardons That Shocked Kentucky and the Larger United States
The pardons were learned about on December 9, 2019. Family members of the victims heard about them either through social media or through a newspaper contacting them asking for a statement on the pardons. In addition to a man who decapitated a female other people pardoned did horrific crimes of which they were convicted of in the Kentucky justice system. They included a man who sexually assaulted a male 15 year old and who manufactured the explicit video of the assault which was shared on social media. Also included is a teenager who murdered his own parents when he was 16. Then there was a teenager father who didn’t want to be a father. What he did was take a six week old infant and shake the baby violently to death. He also was pardoned. If you want to see a larger list of those who were pardoned or had their sentences commuted you can do so below.
- Patrick Brian Baker, who shot and killed a man in a home invasion five years ago. Bevin freed him after Baker’s family hosted a political fundraiser for Bevin in 2018, raising $21,500 for him that went directly to Bevin to repay himself money he loaned his 2015 election campaign.
- Dayton Jones, who was convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy at a party with a foreign object, causing internal injuries and then posting a video of it on the internet, according to the Kentucky New Era in Hopkinsville.
- Micah Schoettle, who was convicted last year of raping a 9-year-old child in Kenton County and sentenced just last year to 23 years in prison. Not only is he free from prison, but he won’t have to register as a sex offender, a status designed to help law enforcement and neighbors — and possible victims — track his movements.
- Delmar Partin, who in 1994 in Knox County, killed his former lover then chopped off her head and placed her body in a 55-gallon drum destined for a toxic waste site.
- Kathy Harless, who was sentenced to life in prison after she gave birth in a Grayson County flea market outhouse and threw the baby in a cesspool. Bevin wrote that she had “paid enough for the death of her newborn son.”
- Blake Walker, who was convicted in 2003 in Adair County of killing his parents and leaving their bodies in a basement. He was 16 at the time.
- Irvin Edge, who hired a hit man to kill his business partner in Daviess County.
- Kurt Robert Smith, who was convicted in 2002 in Fayette County of the murder of his 6-week-old baby. The child’s brain was so swollen that the seams between the bones in his skull were pushed half an inch apart, a state medical examiner testified.
- Daniel Scott Grubb, who threw a cinder block at a friend in Knox County, killing him, then enlisted a friend to bury the body.
- Michael Hardy, who was convicted in Warren County of the 2014 wanton murder of Jeremy Pryor.
- Christian Moffett, the drug-dealing, gun-toting, burglarizing son of former state Rep. Phil Moffett, who has numerous convictions over the past three years – some of them this past April. Phil Moffett contributed $1,000 to Bevin in 2015 and 2019.
There were a number of people pardoned also for minor drug offenses. But Bevin leaned on his faith to say that people deserve a second chance and that they served their time. As the controversy from those pardons grows some have called for the FBI to investigate the situation. In one pardon that Bevin defended he said that a female wasn’t sexually assaulted because her hymen was still intact. And as the controversy grew Bevin doubled down on the pardons on Twitter on December 13, 2019.
If you want to read more about these pardons you can do so in the articles below.
- Louisville Courier-Journal “By pardoning rapists and killers, former governor Matt Bevin showed us who he really is.”
- CNN, “How former Kentucky Gov. Bevin’s pardons are affecting those convicted and the victims’ families.”
- London Guardian, “Why did this US governor pardon child rapists and brutal killers?”
- USA Today, “Kentucky governor pardons convicted killer whose brother hosted campaign fundraiser for him.”
- WSAZ, “UPDATE | FBI asked to investigate ‘flurry of pardons’ by former Ky. Gov. Bevin.”
- Newsweek, “OUTGOING KENTUCKY GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN PARDONS CONVICTED KILLER WHOSE FAMILY HOSTED FUNDRAISER FOR HIM AND DONATED TO HIS CAMPAIGN.”
- Cincinnati Inquirer, “NKY prosecutor about pardoning child rapist: ‘How could any governor be this irresponsible’“
- Lexington NBC, “Bevin pardon of family friend in murder-for-hire plot draws scrutiny.”
- PBS, “Critics attack Matt Bevin’s pardon of man convicted of child rape.”
- Louisville Courier-Journal, “Prosecutor says Matt Bevin should have contacted victims’ families before issuing pardons.”
- CNN, “Former Kentucky Gov. Bevin pardoned a child rapist. One of his reasons: The 9-year-old victim’s hymen was intact.”
- NPR, “On His Way Out, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin Pardons Murderers, Rapists, Hundreds More.”
- Washington Post, “Kentucky’s governor granted clemency to more than 600 people. Then came a firestorm.”
Matt Bevin Who is a Christian Nationalist Illustrates Why Christian Nationalists Are Not Pro-Life
Matt Bevin is part of a movement of Evangelical Christians who try and combine theology and government. Matt is an avowed Christian nationalist and has long worn his faith on his sleeve and been public about his religious beliefs. When he set out to pardon and commute many of these individuals he ignored the evidence, science, law and more. And while I proceed let me say that this blog has no issue with those who were being pardoned of minor drug crimes. As for the others what I find most disturbing about the many pardons carried out is that Bevin describes himself as Pro-Life. So a guy who declares himself Pro-Life pardoned someone who acted like God and killed and decapitated a co-worker. Bevin pardoned others who murdered or who sexually assaulted minors for their own personal pleasure. Christian nationalists who wrap themselves up in Pro-Life flag of abortion are incredibly short sighted. When your focus in being Pro-Life is just stopping abortion while simultaneously tolerating those who engage in murder, sexual abuse, rape, molestation and more; then really you are not Pro-Life. The Pro-Life cry is really about the obtaining and preservation of power. While I am not a fan of abortion I also want to see the issue much bigger. If you are going to be Pro-Life is it too much to ask you to be opposed to murder, sexual abuse, rape and more? Can we agree that a 16 year old who murdered both parents is wrong? Can we also agree that the murder and decapitation of a female is also wrong? And before someone pulls out the grace card this blog has told the story of Eric Smallridge in Florida and Oshea Israel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In Smallridge’s case he killed two females in a drunk driving accident. In the case of Israel he shot to death someone at a party when he was high on drugs. Both men submitted to the judicial system in Florida and Minnesota. Both men accepted responsibility for their crimes. Both men were respectful to their victims families and heeded what the families wanted. You can read more in the following posts that were composed, “Renee Napier and Eric Smallridge: An Incredible Story of Grace, Forgiveness and Repentance in Florida” and “Forgiveness & Reconciliation: The Story of Mary Johnson and Oshea Israel in Minneapolis….” But that largely didn’t happen in the situation of a number of crimes in Kentucky. People have fought, they have not accepted the legal system. They certainly didn’t care about the families. And if I could add neither did Mat Bevin.
Matt Bevin should stand as a warning as to the harm that can take place when Christian nationalists obtain power. Matt Bevin caused great harm to society, and engaged in reckless behavior because of his narcissistic God-like complex. He left pain, and trauma in his wake. And he showed why those who just cling to the Pro-Life card in the case of abortion are not Pro-Life. In 2020 there should not be discussion about why its wrong to pardon someone who decapitated a female. Better yet when you consider some of the issues with patriarchy in evangelicalism women are clearly treated poorly. Did Matt Bevin admire Delmar Partin because of what he did to a woman years ago? According to Matt Bevin’s theology did he put a woman in her place? Was a woman shown where she belonged in society and was that a contributing factor for pardoning and commuting a sentence of someone who murdered? That is the question this blog has for Matt Bevin. You can’t claim you are Pro-Life and defend someone who murdered another adult in such a disturbing and grisly way. And for the others who rally around the Pro-Life flag can you come clean and admit these issues?