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Missing Mississippi Murderer Found, His Pardon Due to be Questioned
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Authorities have located Joseph Ozment, a man who disappeared after receiving a “full pardon” for his murder conviction. With the help of an informer, Joseph Ozment was located at a hotel in Laramie, and was served a subpoena to appear in court. Ozment was not arrested for failing to show up in court last week, as had the three other pardoned murders and the armed robber. Ozment had disappeared before he had been served any court orders.

Attorney General Jim Hood called this “the toughest manhunt I’ve ever been associated with.” He also said, “We said we would find him, and we did. Now we will let the court decide what happens from here.”

Hood is taking every effort to call into question the constitutional legitimacy of over 200 pardons that former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour issued before leaving office. “He ran the office of the governor as if it was Mississippi in the 1950’s,” said Hood. Barbour’s pardons have roused the ire and outrage of many, including those affected by the pardoned criminals. “There’s not any logical explanation other than it was just a whim, and by doing it on a whim at the last moment that’s how he violated our Constitution.”

  
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Specifically, Hood claims Barbour violated the Mississippi constitution by not publishing an application for pardon 30 days before receiving it. Barbour claimed that the Attorney General’s Office is itself to blame for not running the pardons in the newspapers for 30 days.

“It’s not a criminal case. It’s a civil case saying the Department of Corrections shouldn’t have released these people, or shouldn’t be able to release future ones because the applications were not being published in advance,” said Barbour. “The Department of Corrections took responsibility for publications. You know who did it? The special assistant to the attorney general, who reports to Jim Hood, wrote my office saying it’s been published in paper….So, Jim Hood’s guy failed to do the publication on time. Which, by the way, doesn’t matter in our [Mississippi’s] constitution, and now Jim Hood is suing to take these people’s liberty away because his guy didn’t do what he said he was going to do.”

The altercation is more than a battle of political wills. Hood noted that the prisoners who served part of their time at the governor’s mansion were from influential families and were connected with the Republican Party. “Some of the activity at the mansion is really disconcerting,” said Hood. “The freedoms these people [convicted murders] had — dressing in street clothes, having visits — I don’t know if there were conjugal visits, or what they actually had there at the mansion, but it’s something that I intend to try to find out some answers to as to what was going on there.”

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Hood was nevertheless relieved to have located Joseph Ozment: “He was driving his girlfriend’s Mercedes and attempted to flee. He bumped one of our officers and sped from the parking lot as they tried to hand him the [court order]. Under our law, that’s sufficient service — when you drop it at someone’s feet. He left. He returned to the hotel on foot and the Laramie police officers were there. Our officers caught him before he tried to get into the hotel room.”

Ozment, who was staying with his fiancée, LaChina Tillman, will now be held in contempt of court if he fails to attend the court appointment set to explore the legality of his pardon. Ozment must also call into the Mississippi Department of Corrections daily to report his whereabouts and activities



Mary McAbee, the sister of the store clerk murdered by Ozment, is among those chilled by the Governor’s pardon. “It’s just an every minute, constant, in the back of your mind, where is he? What is he doing? I’m fearful. He’s a cold-blooded murderer to do what he’s done, and if he thinks that he may go back to prison, what’s he got to lose?”

The court date to determine Ozment’s future is set for February 3, at 2:00pm.



 

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