Victims' Families Want Pardons Abolished - - Jackson, MS

Victims' Families Want Pardons Abolished

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Governor Haley Barbour has pardoned five felons as he prepares to leave office and four of the five are convicted killers. The move has outraged family members of the victims who say the justice and victim support systems have failed them.

On July 2, 1993, after stalking his estranged wife, then 22-year-old David Glenn Gatlin walked into a mobile home in Brandon and shot his estranged wife, Tammy Ellis Gatlin, in the head. She died holding their infant child in her arms.

"There's one person whose not here today, that is affected by this. He was left laying on the floor in his mother's blood that day and even though he never knew her, he's had to live all his life never knowing what a great mother she could have been," said the victim's mother, Betty Ellis. 

Family members met with legislators to seek a way to prevent gubernatorial pardons in the future. Representative Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto says a bill will be introduced as soon as possible.

"That will give families, that will give law enforcement the opportunity to vet if these type things are going to even be considered and hopefully the governor, the new governor, will take those into consideration and governors on down the line will take that into consideration," said Moak.

Randy Walker, a friend of Gatlin's wife, was shot in the head but survived. He calls for a change and unilateral support for the legislation.

"We can't...we can't undo what has been done yesterday or the day before but we can help. All of us, the media, Governor Bryant that's coming in, the legislators that stand here behind us that had enough honor to help us so far and those that are going to be involved. I would as you guys not to kill this bill," said Walker. 

Governor-elect Phil Bryant said even though the state constitution grants the governor the authority to pardon convicted murderers, he would not.

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