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. wikipedia article

    wg

    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 |

    rick456

    totally agree
    January 30, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    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 | Reply

    Angela73

    She wanted to audition for "Prison Wives"?
    January 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |

    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 | Reply
    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 | Reply

    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 |

    ma & pa

    @Philip at 2:14pm... Good illustration of principle of 'smear the victim'.
    January 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    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 | Reply
    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 | Reply
    Lando

    The governor should serve the sentence instead....what a fool
    January 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    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 | Reply
    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 | Reply
    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 | Reply
    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 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  2. reinadelaz

    I have been reading stories about this since Barbour left office, and in every single one of them I have seen the word 'trustees' misspelled 'trusties.' An inmate who holds a position of trust is not a trusty. He or she is a trustee. Is there not an editor competent in English at CNN?

    January 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BillInLA

      Perhaps you should trouble yourself to do 30 seconds' worth of research before posting.

      You're wrong,

      January 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. abby

    The pardons are a sign of Barbour's malfeasance, defined as the performance by a public official of an act that is legally unjustified, harmful, or contrary to law; wrongdoing (used especially of an act in violation of a public trust).

    By that definition the pardons of murderers and rapists, etc. are acts of malfeasance.

    By that the pardons should be nullified and the convicts returned to prison a.s.a.p. (and throw away the keys)

    January 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judith

      Get a brain.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jillian

    These man shouldn't have any rights. When you kill someone in cold blood, how is it even brought up that they should be given their life back. Take a life, loose your own its that simple, im sure the people responsible for allowing this to happen, has not had a loved one murdered! and if they have, shame on them, what where you thinking. Oh wait, you weren't!

    January 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Carl

    I have an idea let's make all public officials decisions temporary pending the results of a Facebook poll. That sounds like a great way to make decisions.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Megatron

    Humans think its easy to pardon inmagine God taking the resolution to send Jesus to pardon the whole human race from beginning till end because all sins were directed to him directly or undirectly but we dont understand that infinite love thats why we deserve not to be in his presense

    January 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chris

    Everyone calm down geesh! It's not like his friend shot some poor guy 3 times and then this guy seeing the guy crawling shot him 2 more times just to make sure he was dead. Oh wait? nevermind. Sounds like a fine upstanding young man.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. JJC

    He killed someone for CHRISTmas money. So can we say that religion is a gateway drug into crime?

    January 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      That's just plain silly. People who have never been inside a church bankrupt themselves at Christmas time. Why don't you instead point out the mindless consumerism that has come to dominate the holidays instead of taking a cheap shot at religion? The religious facet of Christmas has nothing to do with money.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Judith

    If a person requests a pardon they must make a public address in a Mississippi Newspaper thirty days in advance: That is all well and good. In these cases however nobody requested a pardon and thus the thirty day rule does not apply because the Governor pardoned them under his own powers and the Governor is not required to give thirty days notice before he pardons anybody.

    Hood should be sent to prison for wasting the police and the court's time.

    Police in the USA have no powers outside their own State, so why were Mississippi police in Wyoming attempting to make an illegal arrest of a pardoned man who should not have been arrested in the first place. If he damaged their car then tough luck, they should not have been in act of committing a crime: Which it is because they have no powers of arrest in Wyoming.

    January 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Henry

      The MS police were not trying to arrest him just serve him notice of a court date. Technically the crossed the line as even in state the limits as what anyone can do to serve notice are pretty sever. I would imagine that they have no powers out of state. There was another story that noted that even if the police serve notice in these cases there is no legal obligation for those served to show up to the court as they have been pardoned and the pardon would have to be revoked before they came under obligation.

      I suspect what happened is that the MS police were persistent beyond reason but not legality in trying to serve notice and the individual, unaware of their lack of power, went to extremes to avoid being served (he could have just not answered the door and attempted to wait them out even if they knew he was there). The irrational response to a persistent attempt to serve notice probably resulted in the incident, reasonably foreseeable by the MS police, which would require the intervention of the local police. I suspect that the MS police then agreed to not press charges in WY if the individual agreed to be served. Again speculation but not an unlikely scenario.

      January 30, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      States have legal agreements that allow officers to cross state lines in certain cases. Happens every day. I can't comment on Barbour's pardoning of this guy. Hood and Barbour have been at odds almost from day one. While Barbour might have made a bad decision here, Hood has a long history of playing politics from his office and following the Democrat party line. It remains to be seen whether Hood's (or Barbour's) actions are justified.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Donald in CA

    A democratic govenor would have never let a murder be freed. But the right wing uglies think this is OK. I'm surprised that former republican CA govenor Arnold didnt let charles manson out of prison since he also was releasing murderers out.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      FYI: Manson refused parole every time it was offered. He likes the prison life.

      January 31, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. No win scenario

    So, we can either pretend to limit the ability given the executive branch to issue pardons or we can let convicted murderers walk free. Not even pardoned because the governor thought they were innocent. So, do I support allowing pardons to continue or revoking them? I don't know. Sad that the governor couldn't be trusted with this power though.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Steven

    The man was pardoned, he's legal, but Miss. has sent bounty hunters to track him down. At this point I'm cheering for all the pardoned prisoners; may they live in peace.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not paying attention, are you

      Try reading the story.

      January 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gahh

    Lock him back up and this time throw away the key.

    January 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DigitalHowie

    What else would you expect from a Republican governor? They LOVE murderers.

    If these guys had done this killing in Texas they'd already be off Death Row...as corpses in unmarked graves.

    Plus, Barbour negated a jury's conviction. Ridiculous. I feel for the families of the murder victims.

    January 31, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dragonetta

    How come outgoing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour can pardon a murderer, but gay people can't get married?

    February 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • gijane

      because people are ignorant.

      February 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
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