Bevin pardons man convicted of decapitating woman, stuffing her into barrel

Published: Dec. 13, 2019 at 9:56 PM EST
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Former Governor Matt Bevin pardoned


One of those pardons is 63-year-old Delmar Partin.

A jury convicted him for the 1993 murder of Betty Carnes in Knox County. Prosecutors said he decapitated Carnes and stuffed her body into a barrel. He was sentenced to life in prison.

"When something like that happens to that magnitude in that bad type scene it shocks the whole community that something like that could happen here in Knox County, Kentucky," said Mike Smith who was one of the lead investigators on this case.

He says the murder happened at the Tremco Plant in Barbourville.

"One of the most horrific scenes that I had seen as a police officer," said Smith.

Partin's case went all the way up to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

"It's kind of discouraging at this point when you do all that and you know you have a lengthy and thorough investigation and it goes to the criminal justice system and he's found guilty," said Smith.

Tom Handy prosecuted this trial more than 20 years ago. He says there is no doubt Partin committed the crime.

"It was a well-planned crime. You don't carry hatchets around you don't carry the tools that he used to strangulate her so he knew what he was going to do," said Handy.

The news of Partin's pardon left Handy in disbelief.

"Everybody has been convinced of his guilt but here in the darkness of night immediately before he leaves office without ever investigating this. Without ever calling a prosecutor or a law enforcement officer or family he summarily releases a killer to the streets," said Handy.

Handy says Bevin needs to answer to the people of the Commonwealth for what he has done.

In Bevin's pardon, he wrote that he granted the pardon due to the state's inability or unwillingness to use existing DNA evidence to either affirm or disprove the conviction.

That statement refers to a request from Pardin in 2008 for a DNA sample on a hair found in Pardin's trash can. The request was denied.

"Has nothing to do with the case absolutely nothing, and the Governor incompetently did not ask or disregarded something the evidence as it should be," said Handy.

Kentucky lawmakers are looking into appointing a special prosecutor to investigate some of Bevin's pardons.