Bevin pardons Michael Hardy in the murder of Jeremy Pryor

FRANKFORT, Ky. – In the hours prior to former Gov. Matt Bevin’s term ending on Monday, Bevin pardoned a Bowling Green man convicted in 2016 for the murder of Jeremy Pryor.

A Warren Circuit Court jury convicted Michael Andrew Hardy on July 21, 2016 of murder, three counts of first-degree wanton endangerment, one count of first-degree criminal mischief and one count of operating a motor vehicle under the influence. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The jury found that Hardy was driving under the influence when his car struck a car driven by local musician Jeremy Pryor Nov. 21, 2014 resulting in Pryor’s death.

At the time of Hardy’s arrest, he told police he was an alcoholic and should be in prison, according to his arrest citation.

In the conditional pardon, Hardy, 25, must refrain from alcohol consumption. He must also share his story and  Pryor’s name in schools, churches and other gatherings at least six times per year for the next 20 years.

“I do not believe that society, as a whole, or the memory of Jeremy Pryor more specifically, will be best served by the continued incarceration of Mr. Hardy…,” the pardon reads.

Pryor’s mother, Johnetta Pryor, was stunned and too emotionally upset to speak about the pardon on camera today.

“This is what Bevin left us with. He’s saying it’s OK to murder someone and go out and speak about it for 20 years. What is this going to say to a child telling them that it’s OK to speed and kill somebody, and the end result is Jeremy is still dead,” Pryor said.

The Pryor family will ask for a full investigation into the pardon, Pryor family representative Alan Simpson said.

“Today, December 11, 2019, the Pryor family learned of the commutation and conditional pardon of Michael Andrew Hardy, who murdered their son and brother, Jeremy Pryor, on November 21, 2014,” Simpson said in a written statement.

“This executive action of Governor Bevin is an absolute abuse of power, the likes of which is simply incomprehensible… .

“The decision of the now former governor, Matt Bevin, must be investigated…,” the statement reads. “The Pryor family will be asking the law enforcement community to investigate the governor’s actions, including a full accounting of all official and unofficial communication that may have occurred with the Governor, or anyone acting on his behalf.

“Many may never understand, or be able to comprehend, the pain and sorrow that Drew Hardy has caused to the Pryor family.  The actions of Matt Bevin have, once again, re-victimized this innocent family and all their many friends.  Commutations of sentences and any kind of pardons are reserved for the most egregious cases, where the evidence in a case did not support a verdict, or an unjust decision was reached.  This case has neither of those factors.  Drew Hardy is anything but innocent.  His case was affirmed on appeal by the Kentucky Supreme Court.  Yet, Matt Bevin has substituted his judgment in this case.  It is scandalous,” the statement read.

In an interview at WNKY, Simpson said the Pryor family is shocked.

“I was at the trial,” Simpson said. “Drew Hardy got a fair trial, and 12 people from Warren County, Kentucky found that he murdered Jeremy, and to have that all reversed by the stroke of a pen by the most hated governor in the United States in the last four years is a tough pill to swallow,” Simpson said during the interview.

Gov. Bevin's official pardon of Hardy