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. Dan in Colorado

    He was served in Wyoming. Can he be compelled to go back to Mississippi since it's for a hearing in state court?

    January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • cw

      Yes.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      No, there isnt even a legal precedent for them to have served him in the first place. The mississippi AG is trying to run his mouth and overturn something he isnt even legally allowed to do.
      the man is free, some may not like it, but there is ZERO legal foundation to these hearings.
      The supreme court will uphold that as well. Pardon power is not to be touched.

      January 30, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      As long as the answer to "can he afford an expensive lawyer" is "no," it doesn't matter.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • kat

      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.

      Gov should be put away. If he wa not hiding, why use a fake name at a motel? No convicted criminal should be allowed to work at a governor'd mansion-PERIOD!

      January 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      He didn't meet the requirements to be released in the first place. So, yes they have the right to bring him back.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. james

    Suspend the fact he is a killer for a second..what they want is for him to not follow a rule that has been manufactured, so they can put him back in.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. dave

    IIf you don't like pardons.. change the law. but you cant pick and choose..
    I think the majority of people agree he shouldnt have been pardoned... but that doesn't mean that he didnt have the right to be..

    January 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Yes, it does. He didn't meet the requirements to be released in the first place.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Percy

    So tell me then why was this guy running? His was not an act of passion as the Gov explained, it was robbery and murder plain/simple of an innocent victim. Gov Barbour you need to be held accountable for your actions !

    January 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. PhactChecker

    there is no good reason to pardon 200 inmates.. if any democratic governor would have done that they would be tearing him upp .. The nerve the GOP has..

    And BTW... Stay out of my private life GOP.. so much for the party of small and limited goverment

    January 30, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • SherwoodOR

      Ahhhh... how many did Bill Clinton pardon in his last days as President?

      January 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Turk

    FOOLS!!!!!

    January 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. maggie

    I do find the concept interesting that a court of law and presumably, a jury, found these murderers guilty yet you have the governor behaving like a king, absolving people of any legal responsibility at whim for such serious crimes. To heck with the court and judicial system! Really? These folks may have served the governor well as indentured servants; I would too given the choice of the governors mansion or state prison. But convicted murderers?

    January 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bryan

      Whether you agree or not with Barbour's pardons (for the record, I don't) it's been in the power of the executive branch for quite some time. Most governor's will go with the parole board and discuss the pardon's with the AG office to ensure that all the laws and issues are taken care of.

      The funny and interesting thing about this case (and something AG Hood would you rather not know) is that his office was contacted by the governor's office for legal clarification and help with these pardons. There is evidence showing that the assistant AG contacted the governor's office with the specific guidance on how to move forward with these pardons. The governor's office requested further assitance, and he agreed. Now, AG Hood would like all of us to believe that his office didn't know anything about these pardons, and that he is just like the Mississippi population that has been made a victim through this.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Swell

    dave – Actually, there is a real question as to whether or not he was pardoned. While Barbour signed a pardon for these men, he did not do so within the constraints of the law. So the pardons may not have been legal. And that is what is being investigated. This killer knew that was an issue within 24 hours of receiving his pardon and fled the state anyway.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin

    If any of these pardoned murderers kill someone I don't know how Haley Barbour is going to sleep at night.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom Hartman

    Ford pardoned Nixon.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Big Duke

      For one thing Nixon did not kill anyone. No, I am not nor was ever a Nixon fan, The guys dead anyway, so who cares, but this fool is alive and will kill again, he needs to be in the pen for the rest of his life.

      January 30, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jill

    It may suck but the guy was pardoned! Like dave and james and Truth are saying if you don't like it you need to change the law so the next murderers can't be pardoned. This guy is free. Let's see what he makes of the rest of his life.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Terry G

    Odummer promised to stop all the wars, instead he started a third one. Odummer promised to get ride of the Patriot Act, he didn't. Odummer made a lot of promises to get elected – none of which he kept except the disaster Obamacare, which the CBO says will cause the loss of 716,000 American Jobs.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. matt

    I think there should be a law that states that any one granting a pardon to a person convicted of a violent crime, should be held criminally liable if the convict commits, or takes part in, another violent crime within 10 years of his release. I believe the law should consider the grantor of the pardon as an accessory to the new crime, and must serve a manitory prison term. That would put a stop to a lot of this kind of crap.

    January 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Akil

    So now, will he be tracked like OJ was?

    January 30, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Just a thought

    Welcome Home

    January 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
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