Here are some more ugly details of former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin’s commutation of rapist Dayton Jones. Trigger Warning for anyone who is a rape survivor.
First up, some background. Dayton Jones plead guilty to sodomizing with a sex toy a passed out 15 year old boy at a party. Jones posted online a video that was taken of the rape. The victim had to have emergency surgery to save his life from the bowel perforation that occured during the rape. Jones had served three years of his sentence when Republican Governor Matt Bevin reviewed Jones case and commuted his sentence in December of 2019.
Justifying his commutation of Dayton Jones' sentence in a brutal sodomy, Gov. Matt Bevin said the only evidence implicating Jones came from co-defendants trying to get leniency for the near-fatal assault on an unconscious 15-year-old boy.
Bevin told The Courier Journal last month that he had read “hundreds of documents” from the case and that “there was nothing there except for the testimony of kids who were getting a better deal by throwing” Jones “under the bus.”
Bevin insisted there was no corroborating evidence — “zero, zero” — adding that if Jones, 25, had been “even remotely involved,” he wouldn’t have received the commutation.
But a Courier Journal review of the case shows that Bevin was wrong — other witnesses besides Jones' co-defendants implicated him. Indeed, Jones implicated himself.
According to court records, Jones sent a text message from his phone the morning after the 2014 assault, admitting he inserted a sex toy into the victim's anus “a little, but I was for sure not the only one. Everybody did it.”
Yeah, besides taking a video and posting it for all to see, Jones sent a text message to another young man admitting he did it.
Bevin didn’t bother to contact the special prosecutor in Jones’ case, nor did he bother to contact the cops in Christian County where the rape happened. Nor did Bevin contact the victim or his family.
Did I mention that two others involved with this rape are still sitting in prison? And you can imagine their defense attorneys are not the least bit happy with Bevin’s rendition of events.
In interviews, defense attorneys for two of Jones' co-defendants who remain in prison disputed Bevin’s assertion that there was no corroborating evidence against Jones.
“That is not true,” said Ben Fletcher, counsel for Colton Cavanaugh, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his part in the assault.
“If you pleaded guilty and had a good lawyer, you should not get a pardon,” Fletcher said.
But those two rapists didn’t have their families make a campaign contribution to the Republican DA of Christian County either, unlike Jones’ grandparents did. The same Republican DA who sent a letter to Bevin asking for a pardon for Dayton Jones. By the way, those “hundred of pages” of documents that Bevin claims to have read about this case were provided by Tony and Jackie Jones, the grandparents of Dayton Jones. NO evidence from the actual case was provided to Bevin.
Neither the attorney general or sheriff’s office provided Bevin with the evidence from Dayton's case.
Instead, The Courier Journal's reporting found that Bevin appeared to rely on records and accounts submitted by Jones’ grandparents, Tony and Jackie Jones.
In an interview last week, Tony Jones said the couple sent Bevin 560 pages of documents: “We sent everything.”
But Heck said that that doesn’t come close to matching the bankers' boxfuls of evidence compiled in the case.
And Tony and Jackie Jones said they were unaware of the text message in which their grandson appeared to implicate himself.
In the text exchange, according to court records, Dayton Jones asked a friend, Samual Miller, who hosted the party where the passed-out 15-year-old was sodomized, why Miller was mad at him.
“You put a dildo in K——'s a– and he bled all over my house, and he’s hurt,” Miller texted back.
Jones responded: “What did I do? I definitely didn’t put that far enough (in) to bleed. I left somewhat early, and it had to be somebody after me.”
Miller replied: “Colton and everybody said you shoved that up his a–.”
Dayton: “Yeah, ‘cause they didn’t want to admit to it. I did it a little, but I was for sure not the only one. Everybody did it.”
Jones’ former lawyer, William Deatherage, said his client decided on his own to plead guilty in the face of that and other evidence, including a statement from a teenager who told a sheriff’s lieutenant that he saw “mostly Dayton” sodomizing the victim.
Deatherage testified at the June hearing that the statement was particularly concerning because “Dayton Jones had counted on (the teen) as being a favorable witness.”
Another teenager who wasn’t charged also gave a sheriff’s deputy a statement saying that Jones had put the object in the victim.
Co-defendants Cavanaugh and Tyler Perry, who pleaded to first-degree assault and was sentenced to 10 years in prison, also would have testified against Jones, Heck said at the hearing.
Heck was the special prosecutor handling the Dayton Jones case. I probably have violated copyright protections, but this is behin a subscribers’ wall. I want you all to be able to see how godlike Matt Bevin has been when it comes to determining if a person is guilty of a crime.
Bevin commuted Jones' sentence on Dec. 9, his last day in office.
The order didn’t list a reason for clemency, despite the Kentucky Constitution requiring it.
But after an uproar over several pardons, including one for a man whose family had raised $21,500 to retire Bevin’s campaign debt, Bevin called The Courier Journal to defend his actions.
He said Jones “was there that night at the party” but “not involved in this process.” And he called the conviction a “nice notch in the belt” for prosecutors.
But in a statement, Andy Beshear, former attorney general and now governor, called Jones’ commutation an “injustice.”
“Jones admitted to being a participant in a sexual assault that has not only scarred an individual but a community,” he said. “Prosecutors in this case said it was one of most disturbing sex crimes cases they had ever prosecuted.”