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. Mark

    Should they have been pardoned? Probably not. Should their pardons be subject to public opinion? Definitely not.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      Seriously? How does this fool have a girlfriend? Who's gonna date a convicted murderer?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick456

      when 200 bags of **** turn into free men with equal rights as anyone else overnight, HE** YEAH i'm going to criticize it

      January 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick456

      some women have VERY bad tastes

      January 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnny 39302

      VOTE

      FOR

      WHOMEVER

      YOU

      LIKE!!

      FOR 2012!

      (NONPARTISAN TROLLING)

      January 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      The public has every right to question the pardons of these people. A life sentence should mean a life sentence. Where was the pardon for the victim and his/her family? This lowlife has basically sentenced the victim's family to a lifetime of grief without their loved one. He willingly participated in the crime that ultimately led to the death of another person. As far as I'm concerned, he's as guilty as the trigger man and should be punished and incarcerated accordingly.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • 123

      A

      B

      C

      January 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jr

      yes, they should be open for the public to scrutinize

      it's the victims' right

      January 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      My other reply was a mispost .. not meant to be a reply .. but since I'm replying now I might as say this. There is no reason to pardon convicted murderers and rapists. They have proven they have no regard for human life, and are willing to inflict pain and suffering on another person. Why shouldn't the public have a right to have an opinion on it? They governor power comes through the consent of the governed, they should have the right to determine if checks and balances need to be put in place. Maybe pardons should only be granted by the governor subject to approval by at least 25% of the state legislature. Pardons are a necessary tool for government, for example in certain narrow national security situations .. the option needs to exist. However it shouldn't be abused.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • jr

      stop the dam pardons! @#$%

      January 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Walter

      Agree the strength of a democracy is measured not by how they treat the model citizen but how they treat those that are not model citizens. The public has the right to criticize the pardons but their anger should impact future pardons not overturn past pardons.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I never said the public shouldn't have the right critique the act or express their opinion on it but it sets a dangerous precedent to allow public opinion to overturn the rule of law.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • wiren f

      Ozment belongs in jail

      January 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • wiren v

      Barbour calls himself pro-life?

      And pardons murderers and rapists?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • That's where I would have headed....it's a good call

      I like his call to head northwest. Lots of open country up there and not many people read the papers. Not even sure they have the Inter-Web-Tubes up there in Wyoming. (Did Al Gore install it there yet?)

      January 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      The public has every right to question the pardons of these people. A life sentence should mean a life sentence. Where was the pardon for the victim and his/her family? This lowlife has basically sentenced the victim's family to a lifetime of grief without their loved one. He willingly participated in the crime that ultimately led to the death of another person. As far as I'm concerned, he's as guilty as the trigger man and should be punished and incarcerated accordingly.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnnysnot

      We'll if he's got a girlfriend he's doing better than 1/4 of the people commenting here on CNN.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • JonDie

      Thanks to internet dating and aliases, this murderer will soon be the next Clark Rockefeller.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sd

      wyoming

      January 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • sd

      stop the pardons

      January 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Farty McCloud

      I killed a man by farting in his face. The stench was so powerful and encompassing that he could not get any oxygen and suffocated. My crime is less heinous than this guy's. Where is my pardon?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johan S

      My other reply was a mispost .. not meant to be a reply .. but since I'm replying now I might as say this. There is no reason to pardon convicted murderers and rapists. They have proven they have no regard for human life, and are willing to inflict pain and suffering on another person. Why shouldn't the public have a right to have an opinion on it? They governor power comes through the consent of the governed, they should have the right to determine if checks and balances need to be put in place. Maybe pardons should only be granted by the governor subject to approval by at least 25% of the state legislature. Pardons are a necessary tool for government, for example in certain narrow national security situations .. the option needs to exist. However it shouldn't be abused. .,,,,,

      ,

      ,

      January 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • wikipedia article

      Possible 2012 presidential campaign

      After he visited Iowa in 2009, there was speculation that Barbour might run for the Republican nomination for U.S. President in 2012.[75] An advisor of Barbour stated, "When he surveys what most Republicans consider to be a weak field, he sees no reason he couldn't easily beat them. He's a better strategist and fundraiser than any other candidate currently considering running—and just as good on television and in debates."[76] While considering a potential run, Barbour stated forthrightly in February 2011, "I'm a lobbyist", and said that his K Street past prepared him for the job.[10]

      Many commentators were skeptical of Barbour's chances in 2012. David Broder of The Washington Post wrote that "several others would have to stumble before he could get a serious consideration."[77] Statistician Nate Silver argued that "Barbour may have difficulty appealing to voters outside the South, especially after his recent comments[78] about the civil rights era."[79] Salon.com noted that "Barbour has some serious baggage ... he's lobbied on behalf of the Mexican government for amnesty. There's also the issue of his freighted racial history, and whatever pragmatic concerns it raises for November-minded Republicans."[80] Timothy Carney, reflecting on Barbour's history as a lobbyist, concluded: "If the Tea Party still has some wind, it's hard to see how Barbour gets anywhere near the GOP nomination."[11] On April 25, 2011, Barbour announced that he would not run for President in 2012.[81]

      January 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Public

      Their crimes were against the publib, a public group of their peers convicted them. The public definetely has a right to voice their opinions! Remember this is America and we still have that freedom.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny Pepper

    What we need is a president and Congress - or political party - that will correct the extremely flawed justice system in most states and prevent travesties like the one perpetrated by Governor Barbour.

    End gubernatorial pardons for murderers, rapists, child molesters, burglars, animal abusers, and others who endanger lives with their crimes. Likewise, reevaluate the Eighth Amendment and let's start cleansing our country of the s*c*u*m, one case at a time. The death penalty should be applicable for all aforementioned offenders. As soon as that happens, the world will witness with envy how the United States quickly turns into the safest, most functional society on the face of the Earth, surpassing all of Europe in terms of overall quality of life.

    According to Guy Fawkes, "A desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy." With peaceful methods and the power of the American vote, we should FINALLY throw out the key for the bullies of our society, the criminals who threaten everything this country was founded on.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela73

      The death penalty is a "peaceful method"? Wow, does the Nazi party know your alive?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • JP

      No, I'm not a Nazi and believe fully in equal rights - for law-abiding citizens of all races. Also, to be clear, voting a certain way and trying to convince like-minded friends into supporting positive reform is not "Nazism"; it's peaceful opposition to injustices like the one committed by the Republican governor of Mississippi.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kris

      Yeah, let's turn the US into a country that executes everyone. I have always thought we needed to be more like Russia, China, and Iran.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • RH of WI

      You are right to a degree, but think about the persons that have been locked up and aren't guilty. It happens, because we are not a perfect nation and our judicial system is not perfect. Twenty years on death row is just a waste of money and denies the victim's family closure. But, there should be time to make damn sure they have the right person locked up. I would not want that taken away and be an innocent on death row.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Be Humble

      As long as we all keep in mind the separation of powers, States Rights versus Federal Rights, I have no problem with the US Federal Government enforcing the laws on the books over which it has jurisdiction.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      Does anyone else think it peculiar that a terrorist who plotted to assassinate the king of England is quoted in a comment about being tougher on murderers?? Look up Guy Fawkes.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. AngryWookie

    I'm wondering when CNN is going to figure out that "trusties" is actually spelled "trustees". This has not been corrected since the first article came out. CNN you really need new editors.. and yes, I am available.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Do Wookies make good editors? I don't think of Chewbacca as having a fine grasp of English grammar and spelling.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick456

      i've seen that same messed-up spelling on this website since the story first broke

      weird?????? :{

      January 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Revlama

      No,,,,trusties is the correct spelling in this case. Trustees has a different meaning – look it up.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • John Craig

      And I wonder when you are going to learn how to read. The singular for this particular word is "trusty" not "trustee", idiot. It has been explained in at least 4 articles on this site. Open your eyes and read an ENTIRE article before you taste your foot again.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawg

      Wookie,
      Maybe you should get a firm grip on the English language before you start correcting the likes of CNN. Trusties is the correct word, spelling and usage. Please go back to whatever Star Wars planet you came from and go back to school.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      This is from dictionary.com for Trudties....

      4.
      a well-behaved and trustworthy convict to whom special privileges are granted.

      So,,,your wrong....available,...and apparently not very good at editing.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nathan Jones

      "CNN you really need new editors.. and yes, I am available." I like irony. I am pretty sure you are missing a comma and a period in your sentence.

      CNN, you really need new editors...and yes, I am available.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rick456

    totally agree

    January 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Johan S

    Seriously? How does this fool have a girlfriend? Who's gonna date a convicted murderer??

    January 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angela73

      She wanted to audition for "Prison Wives"?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Glenn Q

    He looked right at a defenseless store clerk (who had already been shot 3 times) making minimum wage most likely to support his family, and put 2 bullets into him. Nuff said.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Snookie

    So the gov is allowed to harass these free men? I hope they sue. They have been pardoned. It is a done deal. They are free and not obligated to answer to that court unless there was some new charge. They need to stop harassing these people. He was obviously trying to get on with his life somewhere else.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Sure snookie, hiding in a hotel, in a different state, under a different name. The guy is a murdering thug. And those pardons are NOT a done deal until the courts say so.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • RH of WI

      Yes, he was getting on with his life...under an assumed name. Seriously?

      January 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ma & pa

    @Philip at 2:14pm... Good illustration of principle of 'smear the victim'.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sd

    The public has every right to question the pardons of these people. A life sentence should mean a life sentence. Where was the pardon for the victim and his/her family? This lowlife has basically sentenced the victim's family to a lifetime of grief without their loved one. He willingly participated in the crime that ultimately led to the death of another person. As far as I'm concerned, he's as guilty as the trigger man and should be punished and incarcerated accordingly.

    Ozment belongs in prison.

    Ozment belongs in prison.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nobody N. Particular

    Not that I support what has been done, but pardons exist for a reason, there are times when the justice system makes a mistake and an innocent person is either railroaded into a confession, or a co-defendants role is escalated to ensure they too get the full sentence of the law. Law enforcement doesn't always concern itself with the truth, only what they can prove (whether its true or not), this usually carries over to the prosecutors office. Now, this authority should give us all pause when we consider the chief executive of either the state or federal government, that they are good and decent and would not consider releasing prisoners unless there is good cause behind it, so remember that when you are electing your governor or president.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Lando

    The governor should serve the sentence instead....what a fool

    January 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Farty McCloud

    I killed a man by farting in his face. The stench was so powerful and encompassing that he could not get any oxygen and suffocated. My crime is less heinous than this guy's! Where is my pardon!?

    January 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    Barbour said that he was rehabilitated. Yet they found him in a different state living under a different name. Really Barbour? You are as stupid as you look.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Johnny

    Good thing they did not choose you as an editor, AngryWookie. Do a quick check and you will find that trusties is a plural form of the word trusty and is a term specifically used for inmates granted special privileges for being "trusty" or trustworthy. A trustee is something different.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. wikipedia article

    Possible 2012 presidential campaign

    After he visited Iowa in 2009, there was speculation that Barbour might run for the Republican nomination for U.S. President in 2012.[75] An advisor of Barbour stated, "When he surveys what most Republicans consider to be a weak field, he sees no reason he couldn't easily beat them. He's a better strategist and fundraiser than any other candidate currently considering running—and just as good on television and in debates."[76] While considering a potential run, Barbour stated forthrightly in February 2011, "I'm a lobbyist", and said that his K Street past prepared him for the job.[10]

    Many commentators were skeptical of Barbour's chances in 2012. David Broder of The Washington Post wrote that "several others would have to stumble before he could get a serious consideration."[77] Statistician Nate Silver argued that "Barbour may have difficulty appealing to voters outside the South, especially after his recent comments[78] about the civil rights era."[79] Salon.com noted that "Barbour has some serious baggage ... he's lobbied on behalf of the Mexican government for amnesty. There's also the issue of his freighted racial history, and whatever pragmatic concerns it raises for November-minded Republicans."[80] Timothy Carney, reflecting on Barbour's history as a lobbyist, concluded: "If the Tea Party still has some wind, it's hard to see how Barbour gets anywhere near the GOP nomination."[11] On April 25, 2011, Barbour announced that he would not run for President in 2012.[81]...

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    January 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
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