Victims, family members attend Supreme Court hearing - - Jackson, MS

Victims, family members attend Supreme Court hearing

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Betty Ellis trembles as she discusses the ordeal she's been through since former Governor Haley Barbour pardoned David Gatlin, the man who killed her daughter, Tammy Ellis Gatlin, his own wife, in 1993.

"It's like reliving the day you got the phone call saying your daughter has been killed. You go through all that again, you can't get away from it," she says.

Gatlin's other victim, Randy Walker, was shot in the head, but survived.

Gatlin, a governor's trustie, had been serving a life sentence, and had been denied parole a year before he was pardoned.

Ellis and Walker joined others who are personally affected by the pardons issued by Governor Barbour as he left office in January. They all sat in on the Supreme Court proceedings Thursday, and tried to read the minds of the Justices.

"I just couldn't read 'em. About the same as going in this morning, I think there's a 50/50 chance," Walker says, regarding the chances the Justices will side with Attorney General Jim Hood and declare the pardons invalid.

Mary McAbee says even if Joseph Ozment's pardon is voided, she worries he won't return from Wyoming. He's the only pardoned felon who did not check in with Mississippi authorities when the temporary restraining order on the pardons was granted by a lower court.

Ozment killed McAbee's brother, Rick Montgomery, during a robbery in 1992. Ozment, also a trustie of the governor, was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole when he was pardoned.

"I'm not saying Haley Barbour committed a crime, but he did something wrong. He did not allow us the chance to speak. Had he heard our voice, listened to us, things might would have been different," McAbee says. 

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