Barbour Pardons Nearly 200 Convicted Criminals On Final Day in OfficeBy Daniel Cherry | Published 10 Jan 2012 09:32pm |
In Haley Barbour's final hours as Governor, he gave full pardons to nearly 200 convicted criminals in Mississippi. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports victims and family members of those affected by the crimes want answers.
The list of those pardoned Tuesday includes convicted drug dealers, rapists, and several murderers. Just days ago Barbour pardoned David Gatlin who was convicted of killing his estranged wife Tammy Gatlin in 1993 while she held their child. Tammy's friend Randy Walker was also in the house. Walker says Gatlin then turned the gun on him.
"When I came to about 45 minutes later, this 6 week old baby was still laying in a puddle of blood on top of its mother's body. This guy didn't care enough to ever remove the baby from the body of its mother and put it in a safe spot. That just kind of shows where this guy's head is."
When Walker got word Gatlin was being released, he says he questioned Barbour's judgement. At the very least, Walker says he deserves an explanation.
"How is my life and the life of Tammy's parents and family and the people in Mississippi, how are we better off today than we were Friday prior to this pardon? How are we better off? How did we serve the best interests of Mississippi? I feel like Governor Barbour single-handedly circumvented the entire justice system."
Following Governor Phil Bryant's inauguration media questioned Barbour on the pardons, but the former governor refused to comment.
Democratic Representative David Baria says he's sponsored legislation the past two years that would limit a governor's ability to issue pardons. His bill would require public hearings in the community where the crime occurred to allow public comment. Baria says he plans on filing that bill again soon.
"And I'm also going to file a bill that would prevent capital murderers from enjoying trusty status at the Governor's Mansion because that appears to be a path to a pardon."
Convicted killer David Gatlin was a trusty serving in the Governor's Mansion before being freed. Pardoning trusties is a conventional practice for outgoing Mississippi governors.
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