Man pardoned by Mississippi's Barbour charged in fatal crash

Reuters News
Posted: May 14, 2012 5:34 PM
Man pardoned by Mississippi's Barbour charged in fatal crash

By Emily Le Coz

TUPELO, Mississippi (Reuters) - A convicted drunk driver pardoned by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in January has been charged with driving under the influence, accused of leaving the scene of an accident that killed an 18-year-old woman.

Harry Bostick, a retired IRS agent who had been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol three times previously, was freed from jail on a $50,000 bond after being charged last week with driving under the influence.

Bostick was accused of slamming into a car in Mississippi in October being driven by 18-year-old Charity Smith, then leaving the scene. He is also charged with a death caused by driving under the influence (DUI). He was indicted on the charges by a Mississippi grand jury on May 10, according to a court document obtained by Reuters.

Barbour, a Republican who served eight years as governor, sparked a storm of criticism after granting about 200 pardons as he left office earlier this year, saying he showed mercy out of a spirit of forgiveness and to give the inmates a second chance.

Barbour signed Bostick's pardon January 10 after the Mississippi Parole Board had reviewed the case and signed off on it. The review occurred on September 30 - just a week before the most recent incident.

"In reviewing Mr. Bostick's case, Governor Barbour took the Parole Board's recommendation into consideration, and he wasn't aware of the subsequent charges," Barbour's spokeswoman, Laura Hipp, said in February.

The current charge would be Bostick's fourth DUI offense. But since Barbour pardoned a previous felony DUI offense upon leaving office in January, Bostick will be tried as though the current offense is his third.

Tony Farese, a lawyer for Bostick, said his client planned to plead not guilty.

"It's a terrible tragedy, we feel so sorry for the Smith family," he said. "But it is our position that Ms. Smith did in fact pull out in front of him and the wreck was unavoidable."

The Bostick case is expected to go to trial in July although a firm date has not yet been set.

(Editing by David Adams and Cynthia Johnston)