Outrage Grows Over Outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour’s Unconditional Pardons Of Almost 200 Criminals Including Convicted Murderers
Jan 11, 2012 3 Comments ›› Angelia
“Among those getting full pardons was brother of former New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre”
Bitter family members angrily blasted Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour after his 11th-hour pardons freed four murderers who savagely killed their loved ones.
“I’m totally disgusted,” said Glenda Walker, whose son was shot to death in 1993 by ex-inmate David Gatlin. “… One man can’t put you in jail. I don’t think it’s right for one man to remove you from jail.”
Her ire was shared by the families of other victims after the quartet of killers was released Sunday night. Barbour’s office said nothing about the pardons until the family members went public with their disgust.
Gatlin was set free less than two weeks after the Mississippi Parole Board shot down his bid for early release.
The freed foursome included Gatlin, convicted of killing his estranged wife and her long-time friend Randy Walker; Joseph Ozment, guilty of gunning down Ricky Montgomery during a 1994 robbery; Charles Hooker, doing life for a 1992 murder; and Anthony McCray, convicted in 2001 for his wife’s killing.
Three of the murders were particularly grisly, including the Ozment killing.
Mark McAbee, the nephew of victim Montgomery, said his relative was shot three times in the middle of a robbery by several bandits.
“He was crawling toward Joseph Ozment for help,” McAbee said. “He was crawling to him for help. Joseph Ozment put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger twice.”
McAbee ripped Barbour’s pardons as “a slap in the face.”
Glenda Walker said Gatlin, 40, shot his wife as she held their small boy — and then gunned down her son.
“He left that little baby on his dead mother’s body,” she said. “It was a horrendous murder.”
The governor, who leaves office Tuesday, did not respond to calls for comment on the bitter response to his decision. All the pardoned men worked at trusties in the governor’s mansion, and granting trusties their freedom is a decades-old tradition in the state.
The explanation meant little to JoAnn Martin, whose sister Jennifer was killed by McCray. The couple was arguing inside a cafe when McCray walked out, returned with a handgun — and shot her in the back, Martin said.
“When he killed her, she had a 3-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son,” Martin said. “It’s a shame before God. It’s almost like you kill somebody, and nobody cares.”
A complete list of those pardoned was released Tuesday. Among them was the brother of former New York Jets quarterback Brett Favre.
Earnest Scott Favre had his record cleared in the 1996 death of his best friend, Mark Haverty. Favre had driven in front of a train in Pass Christian while drunk, pleaded guilty in 1997, and was sentenced to a year of house arrest followed by two years’ probation.
Other convicted criminals who received pardons include:
— Azikiwe Kambule, a South African man whose manslaughter conviction in a 1996 Mississippi carjacking and slaying drew international attention because he was a teenager when the crime was committed and prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty. In June 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Kambule, who wanted to withdraw his guilty plea.
— Michael Graham, whose sentence Barbour suspended in 1998 and whom he pardoned Tuesday. Graham was convicted of shooting his ex-wife in 1989 in downtown Pascagoula with a shotgun at point-blank range.
— Clinton Jason Moffitt of Hickory Flat, who was convicted in June 2009 of conspiracy to commit voter fraud. Moffitt was among 16 people indicted on fraud charges stemming from the 2007 elections in Benton County. In July 2009, Moffitt was sentenced to five years in prison with two years to serve, two suspended and one under house arrest.
— Victor Collins, who was convicted of fatally beating his girlfriend, Peggy Campbell, in Marshall County in 1994 after Collins was released from jail on larceny charges Campbell had filed against him.