Pardoned Mississippi murderer found in Wyoming

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 30, 2012 4:48 PM
Pardoned Mississippi murderer found in Wyoming

By Robbie Ward

STARKVILLE, Miss (Reuters) - A convicted Mississippi murderer who disappeared after he was pardoned and released from prison by former governor Haley Barbour has been found in Wyoming, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said on Monday.

Investigators found Joseph Ozment on Sunday in Laramie, Wyoming at a hotel where he registered under an assumed name, Hood said.

Ozment was one of five inmates released by Barbour whose pardons were questioned by Hood for failure to meet the provisions of the Mississippi constitution.

The five men, four serving life sentences for murder and one for armed robbery, were pardoned after they worked at the Governor's Mansion doing odd jobs while Barbour was in office.

Four of the five men were located but Ozment disappeared after the pardon. The five are expected to appear at a court hearing on the pardons in Mississippi on Friday.

Conservative Republican Barbour issued some 200 pardons earlier this month as he completed his second term in office, sparking criticism that he was abusing the system.

Ozment, 40, had been serving a life sentence for the 1993 robbery and shooting death of a store clerk in northwest Mississippi.

After Barbour issued the pardons, new Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant announced he would no longer allow inmates to work at the Governor's Mansion and would support efforts to limit the authority to pardon inmates serving time for violent crimes.

(Editing by Greg McCune)