On way out, Mississippi governor pardons murderers

8:30 p.m. CST, January 9, 2012
By Robbie Ward

STARKVILLE, Miss., Jan 9 (Reuters) - Mississippi Governor
Haley Barbour pardoned four convicted murderers who worked at
the Governor's Mansion, releasing them from prison in the final
days of his term in office, state officials said on Monday.

In all, Barbour pardoned four men convicted of murder and
another convicted of burglary and robbery, all serving life
sentences. In the executive orders Barbour signed, he wrote
each "proved to be a diligent and dedicated workman."

A former chairman of the Republican National Committee who
considered running for president in 2012, Barbour is due to
leave office on Thursday. His office did not return repeated
attempts for comment.

The pardoned inmates included David Glenn Gatlin, who was
denied parole in December on his conviction for shooting dead
his estranged wife while she cradled their baby in 1993.

"He shot her in the head while she was holding a baby. He's
a cold-blooded murderer," said Tiffany Ellis Brewer, the
victim's sister.

Her family joined Democratic lawmakers at a news conference
in the capital Jackson on Monday, demanding limits to the
governor's ability to pardon killers.

Barbour issued the pardons on Friday and Brewer said her
family learned of them on Saturday when contacted by a victims'
advocate organization.

Gatlin was one of five inmates serving life sentences who
worked at the Governor's Mansion and were pardoned by Barbour
in one of his last official acts before Governor-elect Phil
Bryant, also a Republican, takes office on Thursday.

Gatlin had worked at the mansion since November 2009,
Mississippi Department of Corrections records show.

The other pardoned inmates were Charles Hooker, a middle
school teacher convicted in 1993 of murdering his school's
principal; Anthony McCray, convicted of killing his wife in
2001; Joseph Ozment, convicted in 1993 of murder, conspiracy
and armed robbery; and another man serving life for burglary
and robbery.

Each worked as a trusty at the Governor's Mansion while
serving prison sentences. Work by trusties would typically
include kitchen duty, waiting tables, cleaning and washing
vehicles, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the
Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Mississippi governors have routinely pardoned inmates,
Singletary said, but said she did not have information about
how many pardoned inmates were convicted of murder.