“Johiem Bandy made some unwise decisions as a young teenager. Since then, he has done all that has been asked of him and is turning his life around.”
Those words were written as part of the pardon issued to Johiem Bandy in 2019 by Republican then-Governor Matt Bevin, who weeks earlier had lost his reelection bid to Democrat Andy Beshear.
It was one of more than four hundred pardons issued by Bevin, an unusually large amount by an outgoing government, and the list of recipients included murderers, rapists, and drug offenders. The pardons received widespread national publicity and condemnation, even from Republican lawmakers in Kentucky who have since looked to quell pardon power.
Bandy had been convicted in Kenton County in 2017 on charges of robbery and assault.
He was around 15 years old at the time of his conviction and served around two years behind bars before being released due to the pardon at age 17.
Whether Bandy, now 20, was “turning his life around” as indicated in Bevin’s pardon of him will be for another jury, and maybe more, to consider.
Bandy is back behind bars in Kenton County, arrested Wednesday on multiple charges, including two counts of second degree strangulation, one count of fourth degree domestic violence with a minor injury, one count of fourth degree dating violence with no visible injury, one count of criminal mischief, and two counts of failure to appear in court.
He had been wanted on charges related to two separate strangulation cases involving women in the Latonia area but was only captured after a third alleged strangulation happened last week in the Latonia Terrace housing project. Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders said that Bandy is accused of entering a woman’s home while she was out. When the woman returned, an altercation ensued, and Bandy was armed with a handgun. He is accused of strangling the woman who was able to wrestle away the gun and wound Bandy in the shoulder or collarbone area, Sanders said.
(A request to Covington Police for official details on last week’s alleged crimes was not immediately returned.)
Bandy was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center where he was treated and then released to the Kenton County Sheriff’s Office who arrested him on the two outstanding warrants.
While Bandy is scheduled to be arraigned in Kenton District Court on Thursday morning for the aforementioned charges, Sanders said that the charges related to last week’s incident will be presented directly to the Kenton County Grand Jury. Those charges include burglary, strangulation, and fourth degree assault – domestic violence.
“We just can’t be done with (Bevin) once and for all because his horrendous pardons keep rearing their ugly head,” said Sanders, a Republican. “(Bandy) is just committing crimes faster than we can find him and until somebody actually shot him, that’s when the police were able to catch up with him.”
Bandy was shot with a gun that he had possessed in the Latonia woman’s apartment last week, Sanders said. Bandy would only be allowed to possess a firearm legally due to the pardon. The prosecutor also noted that while Bandy is the first Kenton Co. recipient of a Bevin pardon to reoffend, he isn’t the only one across the state.
“Mr. Bandy specifically has obviously demonstrated that he was not worthy of a pardon and never has been,” Sanders said. “His original conviction was for a violent offense and his charges, although they might not be classified as violent for parole purposes, they are violent for common sense purposes. I’m sure anyone who has been strangled would agree with me. This is a pattern of Mr. Bandy attacking and strangling women.”
Sanders, who has been vocally critical of Bevin since the pardons of December 2019 after previously supporting his political campaigns, said that people worthy of pardons from a governor may face difficulty due to the stain left on the process three years ago.
“I think there is additional heightened scrutiny brought to the issue of pardons,” he said. “It’s going to be unfortunate for those people out there who really have turned their lives around and would be worthy recipients of a pardon in the future. I think our current governor and governors for the foreseeable future will be reticent to issue pardons knowing how poorly the recipients of Gov. Bevin’s pardons turns out.
“This is one catastrophe after another.”