Thursday, June 19, 2003

Patton pities rapist killer

By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Gov. Paul Patton said Wednesday that he plans to commute the death sentence of a man convicted of a murder he committed at age 17.

Patton said he would not sign a death warrant for Kevin Stanford because of Stanford's age at the time of the crime.

"That is a case, in my opinion, where the justice system perpetuated an injustice," Patton said. "As you will note, I have not set an execution date for Mr. Stanford, and he is certainly one of the people that I will correct an injustice for."

Patton revealed his plans for Stanford during an afternoon news conference in which he pardoned his chief of staff Andrew "Skipper" Martin and three others accused of breaking campaign finance laws in 1995.

Stanford, now 39, was convicted of murdering Baerbel Poore. After Stanford robbed and raped Poore, he shot her in the face and then in the side of her head.

Poore, 20, was a single parent working nights at a Louisville gas station to support an 11-month-old daughter. The January 1981 robbery netted $143 in cash, 300 cartons of cigarettes and two gallons of gasoline.

"I don't know what action that I will take on that case," Patton said. "But I will settle that case once and for all before I leave office."

The U.S. Supreme Court in October refused to consider banning executions of people like Stanford who committed the crimes as a juvenile.

Patton is at odds with others in his own Democratic Party.

Attorney General Ben Chandler, the Democratic nominee for governor, has called on Patton to deny Stanford clemency. House Majority Leader Greg Stumbo, Democratic nominee for attorney general, has also said he wants Patton to sign Stanford's death warrant.

Stanford's case drew national attention because he was a juvenile at the time of the crime. He has exhausted his appeals.

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Patton pities rapist killer