LEXINGTON, Ky. — Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin pardoned more than 400 convicts, and some of those decisions are causing controversy. One of those cases involves a Lexington man convicted of killing his 6-week-old son. The baby’s mother said she’s appalled by the release.
Kurt Smith was 17 years old when his infant son, Blake, was murdered. Smith was watching the newborn and claimed he dropped the child on a hard floor. The jury did not buy his story. Smith was convicted of wanton murder.
Blake’s mother said an autopsy showed that her son had Shaken Baby Syndrome. His injuries were so severe it was like the child had been thrown from a four-story building. Smith was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 20 years.
Smith served 18 years and was freed when Bevin pardoned him. The former governor said he had been duly punished for his criminal actions.
Blake’s mother doesn’t see it that way and said she has never gotten over her son’s death.
“My whole life since the time I was 17 years old has been a living hell,” said Jessica Rudenis, Blake’s mother. “I’ve worried about this day forever, but I never thought it would be this soon. He didn’t just shake a baby because it was crying in the middle of the night, because he was tired. He brutally beat my son to death.”
Rudenis said she never got over her son’s death and in fact, her sister-in-law Theresa Oiler now raises her other children because of her emotional struggles with drug addiction.
“He might be letting one family celebrate that a son got to go home today, but I’ll be mourning the loss of my son for 18 years and that will never stop,” said Rudenis.
Smith was also charged with rioting and hitting a corrections guard over the head with a rock during the Northpoint Prison Riots in 2009. In prison, Smith helped train dogs, but Rudenis and her sister-in-law believe that is not enough.
“He didn’t do his homework,” Oiler said of the former governor.
Bevin, who lost to Democrat Andy Beshear in a close race, issued more than 400 pardons since the Nov. 5 election, according to the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office.