Joseph Ozment, 40, a convicted killer pardoned by former Republican Governor Haley Barbour, has vanished after disobeying the court’s order to report in daily until the legality of his pardon was confirmed. Attorney General Jim Hood is now offering a reward for any information leading to his return, reports MSNBC.com.
Barbour granted pardons, suspensions or commutations for 200 people — including Ozment and 4 other men who all worked for him in the governor’s mansion — sparking outrage in the Attorney General’s office and the general public. Hood says that Barbour has hampered his ability to uphold the law and he is trying to get most of pardons voided:
I hate the fact that our former governor has unleashed this guy on the U.S. I equate this to having a manhunt with one arm tied behind my back.
Though Ozment is technically a free man, Hood says that of the 203 pardons that Barbour granted, 170 are illegal because “enough public notice was not given in the communities where the crimes were committed.” Ozment falls in that number.
Before he was pardoned, Ozment had been in prison since 1993 for the robbery and shooting death of a store clerk in northwest Mississippi.
MSNBC reports that Barbour says that he is confident with his clemency decisions. The former Republican National Committee chairperson believes that his political adversaries are merely twisting the situation into a controversy that just isn’t real.
Hood asked anyone with information to call a confidential hotline at 1-800-281-4418.