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Thursday
Jan122012

Family Fears Revenge from Killer Pardoned by Haley Barbour

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(JACKSON, Miss.) -- People in Mississippi are angry about former Gov. Haley Barbour's decision to pardon about 200 of the state's prisoners. It seems that the pardon no one can forgive is that of David Gatlin.

Gatlin shot his wife dead with their son in her arms and walked out of jail a free man last week, the beneficiary of one of the pardons or early releases granted by the former governor during his final days in office.

Gatlin was freed before the courts could step in and halt the release, and now no one knows where he is.

His wife’s sister worried he’ll come back to the family to finish the deed. She said Barbour is a coward for freeing these men and then disappearing.

It’s now clear that Gatlin and three other convicted murderers were given a get-out-of-jail-free card because they worked in the governor’s kitchen and washed his cars.

Lawmakers are now looking for ways to limit the power of the pardon and, at the same time, block those four pardons and nearly 200 others.

“The public doesn’t get it. I don’t get it either,” said attorney Mark Mayfield. “Haley has done a lot of great things, but I’m afraid that in the large measure this will tarnish his image as he goes forward.”

Barbour, an outspoken tough-on-crime crusader, never has been afraid to speak his mind -- until now.

ABC News went looking for the former governor at his new law firm, trying to get an answer for the frightened families crying for a reasonable explanation. Instead ABC was shown the door.

In a brief written statement Wednesday night, Barbour said, “About 90 percent of these individuals were no longer in custody, and a majority of them had been out for years.”

But that was not the case for the murderers who worked at the governor’s mansion. They had been sentenced to life.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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