January 30th, 2012
02:03 PM ET

Attorney general: Pardoned murderer found in Wyoming

[Updated at 2:17 p.m. ET] Joseph Ozment, a convicted murderer who was pardoned this month in a controversial move by outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, has been found in Wyoming, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood announced Monday.

Ozment was served at a hotel in Laramie, Wyoming, where he had been staying under another name, his office said.

"As our officers attempted service, Mr. Ozment fled in his girlfriend's vehicle but not before the vehicle made contact with one of our investigators," Hood said in a press release.  "That is when our officers asked for the assistance of the Laramie Police Department.  Mr. Ozment returned to the hotel on foot and ended up signing receipt of service in the presence of our two officers and two with the Laramie Police Department."

Ozment is one of four convicted murderers Barbour pardoned early this month. He did not appear at a court hearing in a case challenging the pardons. Hood said previously officials wanted to serve Ozment with a document telling him to appear in court.

Pardoned Mississippi murderer drops out of sight

According to a transcript of Ozment's confession to police, Ozment admitted being part of a robbery so he could have "Christmas money." He entered the convenience store with a friend who shot the clerk three times. The clerk, Rick Montgomery, crawled from around the counter and Ozment looked at him and shot him twice.

As he closed out his second term as governor, Barbour granted "full pardons" - meaning the convict's record is effectively wiped clean - to more than 200 people found guilty of a variety of crimes. All four of the convicted murderers he pardoned were serving life sentences and worked as trusties at the governor's mansion.

The move stirred outrage among relatives of the pardoned murderers' victims, among others. Hood has been particularly outspoken, earlier this month calling the pardons "a slap in the face to everyone in law enforcement and (saying) Gov. Barbour should be ashamed."

He also said Ozment and three other murderers did not meet the constitutional requirements to be granted a pardon, and he wants to see the men put back in jail to finish their life sentences.

Barbour has defended his pardons. He told CNN's John King that Ozment and the others have been rehabilitated.

"He has no obligation to do anything," Barbour said. "He's been pardoned. He's a free man."

So what will happen next?

"We said we would find him and we did," Hood said. "Now we will let the court decide what happens from here."

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Filed under: Courts • Crime • Justice • Mississippi
soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. Bob

    A pardoned man is a free man! Unless he broke the law again after his pardon, they can't touch him. I'm not saying giving him a pardon was right or wrong, but our gov needs to follow the laws here as well. You can't arreset someone because you don't agree with them being pardoned.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      But you can if proper protocols were not followed. They are still trying to determine if the pardon was valid. If not, then back he goes. Unless you think Governors should be allowed to change the rules as they go along.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechainc

      All true......infortunately.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Don't they already change the rules as they please already?

      January 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ncguy

      I think the governor did the damage, the men should be freed. then put the governor in prison.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Nothing has been reported to the contrary, so it appears all protocols were followed. This isn't Congress, you can't make up the laws to suit you.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana safe in Alaska

      Bob, I think Barbour over stepped the Intent of the pardon process. I think the intent is more for non-violent crimes and not the whims of someone who abuses or just didn't care. If this is that easy to abuse then that prerogative should be removed from all governors.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • SherwoodOR

      Mr. Bob is exactly correct.

      Mr. Ozment did nothing wrong and it wrong of CNN to have worded this story to suggest otherwise.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Well said Bob. The media and these stupid posters on here dont get three facts:
      – Presidential and Gubernatorial pardons are absolute
      – They can be granted at any time of the term of office
      – They are NOT subject to anyone's opinion except the President or the Governor.

      End of discussion.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • jack

      People can think all they want, the law is black and white. And since no one has been able to site a statute that was not followed, Mr. Ozment is a free man.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO ©

      Jack, the specific challenge is that a 30 day notice is needed in advance of the pardon being issued. No such notice was given in this case. Now it is up to the courts to decide on the validity of the pardon. It could be argued that the 30 day notice provision is to give victims time to appeal to the governor's office, but were denied that in this case.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Big_D

    Maybe he was looking for Cheney so they could exchange shooting people in the face stories with each other.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • EC

      I just fell off my chair when I read your post.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. kim

    of course these people are dropping out of sight – they were pardoned!!! is those involved were foolish enough to let this all go down, then let it go and let them alone.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • FlawidaJack2

      He did get far away. Just not far ENOUGH away. I(Aleutian Islands, good, Wyoming-not!

      January 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana safe in Alaska

      FlawidaJack<>We too have police and even a court here in Dutch Harbor. What I'm saying is if you're on the run and somehow you make it here you will get caught, and we are even educated.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mrkeno

    didnt quite stay on the lam as long Dr richard kimble

    January 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      He will in the movie version. He'll also actually be innocent in that version.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  5. chaz

    if they pardon him, no parole check in's....so let him be

    January 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. larlame

    problem: the outgoing governor illegally pardoned them. they need to go back, and take barbour with them

    January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sean

    Looks like another reason for the death penelty in murder cases. Don't have to worry about crazy governors pardoning them.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    If CNN would like to report some injustice, then they should go to Colleton County, SC courthouse and look at the solid cases that juries vote people not guilty. It is a travisty of justice!!!

    January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    So they can't send him back to prison, so what? How about we get him a nice house in Former Gov. Barbour's neighborhood, or better yet, get him a job at the school Barbour's grandchildren attend.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • FailedCongress

      He worked as a trustee in the governors mansion. I doubt that the former gov. would worry too much.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Thomas

    Is there a precident where clemency by a Governor can be overturned?

    If the governor failed to follow some proceedures, then the Governor is liable for legal sanctions. But does that mean that the Clemency is overturned?

    That is an interesting legal issue.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Doug Spielman

    Just another example of Politicians doing whatever they want and have no repercussions..Lock up the governor until the killers are behind bars again

    January 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Just because you dont like his decision, doesnt mean he acted out of bounds. It is his right as the elected and sworn holder of that office. Dont like it? Dont re-elect him OR get the power of pardon removed (good luck, remember when Nixon was pardoned, hahaha, fat chance pardon gets taken off for this mickey mouse issue).

      January 30, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    Kinda reminds me of the disgruntled employee on his last day trying to delete computer files or putting a virus on the computer system.

    Why can't people just leave and move on with their life?

    January 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    He shouldn't have tried to run. If he was truly rehabbed and
    worthy of release he wouldn't worry about the challenge.
    But no murderer found guilty is worthy of release.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Why not leave? As far as he in concened his record and crime are completely wiped from his record. He is now as innocent as you or I. That is the POINT of the power of pardon.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. LLM2012

    Yes, he was pardoned by a Governor but what grounds did the Governor have? It's a bit sticky-icky the whole pardoning bit, Barbour had no real legal stance in why he pardoned them. Just for the record, some criminal laws have not been amended for years. If people are changing, their crimes changing due to access to different technology, then perhaps it is about time some criminal laws be amended. Including those of a "pardoning".

    January 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      He doesnt have to have grounds, thats the point. It is an absolute power. All governors and the president have it, always have.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Brian

    Great JOB!!! Thank you to the officers in Laramie!! the last thing we need is a guy like that enjoying his freedom ..probably just enough to murder again

    January 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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