JACKSON — Gov. Haley Barbour has caused outrage among victims’ families and lawmakers with his pardoning of at least four convicted murderers and a robber as he prepares to leave office Tuesday.
Family members in one case at a press conference on Monday with Democratic lawmakers at the Capitol, called for the Legislature to restrict gubernatorial pardon powers.
“I would have voted for (Barbour) for president – prior to this,” said Randy Walker, who was shot in the head in 1993 in Rankin County by David Glenn Gatlin, whom Barbour freed from a life sentence on Sunday. “The governor himself ought to have to look these families in the eye and say ‘I’m letting this guy out.’ He took the coward’s way out.”
Gatlin was convicted of shooting and killing his wife, Tammy, while she held their 2-month old baby in 1993, then shot Walker, a family friend. Tammy’s family was at the Capitol press conference on Monday.
“This has been really, really hard on both our families,” said Tiffany Ellis Brewer, Tammy’s sister. “It’s like it’s happening all over again.”
In recent days, Barbour has pardoned five convicts, all of whom worked as trustees at the Governor’s Mansion. Barbour’s office has not responded to requests for comments as he prepares to leave office Tuesday. It’s unclear whether more pardons are coming in his final hours in office.
Those pardoned in recent days are:
Nathan Kern, serving life for Coahoma County robbery and burglary convictions in 1972
David Glenn Gatlin, serving life for murder conviction in 1993 in Rankin County
Charles Hooker, serving life for murder from 1992 conviction in Coahoma County
Anthony McCray, serving life for murder from 2001 Pike County conviction
Joseph Ozment, serving life for murder, conspiracy and armed robbery from 1993 conviction in DeSoto County.