AJACKSON-Outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has pardoned at least four convicted killers who worked as inmate trusties at the Governor’s Mansion, including a man who was denied parole less than two weeks ago.
Relatives of three victims told The Associated Press on Monday that state corrections officials notified them over the weekend that the men convicted in the crimes were to be released this past Sunday.
Barbour’s office hasn’t responded to numerous messages. Barbour, a Republican, leaves office on Tuesday.
Copies of the pardons filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office were released Monday. They show he has pardoned at least five men, the convicted killers and a man serving life for robbery.
The inmates are David Gatlin, convicted of killing his estranged wife in 1993; Joseph Ozment, convicted in 1994 of killing a man during a robbery; Anthony McCray, convicted in 2001 of killing his wife; Charles Hooker, sentenced to life in 1992 for murder; and Nathan Kern, sentenced to life in 1982 for burglary after at least two prior convictions.
The pardons outraged victims’ relatives as well as Democratic lawmakers, who called for an end to the custom of governors’ issuing such end-of-tenure pardons.
“Serving your sentence at the Governor’s Mansion where you pour liquor, cook and clean should not earn a pardon for murder,” Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, posted Monday on his Facebook page.