(TNS) A Western Kentucky man who had his state sex-offense sentence cut short by Gov. Matt Bevin only to be charged in federal court over the same crime has been sentenced to eight years in prison.
Dayton R. Jones, now 27, was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Paducah.
Jones pleaded guilty to a charge of production of child pornography stemming from an assault that happened in October 2014 in Hopkinsville, where he grew up.
Jones was 20 years old when he and a group of friends, many of them underage, got drunk at a party. After one 15-year-old boy passed out, others at the party sexually assaulted him, according to an affidavit from Renee Chouinard, a special agent with the FBI.
Jones recorded a video of the abuse on his phone and posted it on Snapchat. Someone who saw it made a copy and gave it to police, according to a court record.
Jones pleaded guilty in state court in 2016 to first-degree sodomy, first-degree wanton endangerment and distributing material portraying a sexual performance by a minor received a sentence of 15 years in prison.
Bevin, a Republican, commuted Jones’ sentence to time served in December 2019 after losing re-election to current Gov. Andy Beshear.
It was one of hundreds of pardons and commutations Bevin issued in the closing days of his term, angering crime victims, their families, prosecutors and many in his own party.
The FBI picked up a case on Jones after that and he was charged in federal court in 2020. The federal case was based on the same crime, but it was a different charge, allowing Jones to be prosecuted in federal court even though Bevin ended his state sentence.
Jones said in a lengthy hand-written letter to senior U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell that he regretted the crime.
“No matter how good a of a day I might be having, or not, there is always a dark cloud over my mood that stems from that day,” Jones wrote.
Jones had completed a two-year degree in business and was attending Arkansas State University on a golf scholarship before he was arrested. He also had the potential to work in family businesses, according to letters from family members and friends.
“I had everything going for me and one horrible night sent my entire life off track,” Jones wrote to the judge.
Jones attempted to describe the abuse as a prank, and said that “as far as he actual assault goes, I wasn’t a part of it at all.”
However, the victim suffered serious injuries that required multiple surgeries, and Jones’ plea agreement included a reference to language in his state plea that said he “committed the offense of deviant sexual intercourse with a fifteen year old victim. ... The victim was incapacitated at the time of the assault.”
Jones is not the first person who received a pardon or commutation from Bevin who has since faced a new prosecution.
In one high-profile case, Patrick Baker, who was convicted in state court of killing a Knox County man while trying to rob him of drugs and money, was convicted in the man’s death in a federal trial last year.
Bevin had pardoned Baker on the state charge just two years after he received a 19-year sentence, a decision that caused controversy because Baker’s brother and sister-in-law had held a political fundraising event for Bevin the year before the pardon.
Bevin said the fundraiser had nothing to do with the pardon, but state and federal authorities have looked into the issue.
U.S. District Claria Horn Boom sentenced Baker to 42 years on the federal conviction, but gave him credit for the time he had served in state prison.
Baker denied he committed the homicide and is appealing.