It appears that, on his last day, Gov. Barbour issued thirty-two pardons or sentence reductions for cases involving murder, manslaughter, or varying kinds of homicide (including DUI homicide, of which there are five, and one conviction of accessory after the fact to a murder). Out of curiosity, I looked at some of those cases. Here’s some facts on three of them. I couldn’t find a couple of others I checked.
I want to make a cautionary remark: I am sure that the storm that is brewing over this is going to effectively shut down the pardon power, or at least curtail its use. I don’t think that is a good thing.
Full and Complete Pardon
Michael Davie Graham murder. If this name seems familiar, it is because he came up in an earlier Barbour clemency decision. He’s the guy who shot his ex-wife at an intersection in Pascagoula. Barbour had earlier suspended his sentence. On the last day of his term, Barbour gave him a full pardon.
Harold Miller, III had a ten year manslaughter conviction; he’s not in the MDOC now, although I would have thought he still had some time to serve. Here are the facts:
¶ 3. As Duncan arrived back at the apartment complex, Harold Miller happened to pull up in his vehicle; Miller was also on his way to visit Fuller and Slater at their apartment. As Duncan and Miller were walking together toward the building, Drake came outside. Seeing Duncan and Miller together, Drake believed that Duncan was cheating on him with Miller. Drake proceeded to assault Miller, hitting him twice in the face. Drake’s second blow knocked Miller to the ground. Drake then got down and looked at Miller, asked him if he was all right, then followed Duncan into the apartment.
¶ 4. Once inside, Duncan and Drake talked for about two minutes. During that time, Duncan convinced Drake that she and Miller were not cheating on him. Concerned that he had hurt Miller, Drake went back outside to check on him. About a minute after Drake left the apartment, Duncan answered Miller’s knock at the door. Once Duncan opened the door, Miller announced that he had “shot his ass.” Duncan went outside to find Drake lying on the ground on his stomach. Drake died a short time later from a single gunshot wound to the heart.
¶ 5. Police officers responded to the scene. Miller admitted shooting Drake and was arrested. He was then treated for the facial abrasions and the laceration caused by Drake’s assault. The treating physician classified Miller’s injuries as minor. The doctor testified that in his expert opinion Miller had not received a serious beating and he did not suffer any serious bodily injury.
Lindsay Katheryn Welch for manslaughter
Here are the facts from the decision on appeal in her case, which began as a Forrest Allgood prosecution for capital murder; the jury convicted of culpable manslaughter.
¶3. On March 19, 1999, at approximately 10:00 p.m., Welch gave birth in the bathroom while at home alone. After the delivery, Welch cleaned the baby off, cut the umbilical cord with scissors and wrapped the baby in a couple of towels. She stated that, “I thought that he might be cold and that he probably was so I reached over into the cabinets and got some towels and wrapped him up in the towels hoping that that would keep him warm.” Welch then placed the baby on the kitchen counter, returned to the living room and laid on the sofa.
¶4. At approximately 1:00 a.m., Welch went to the kitchen to check on the baby. She testified that his hand felt cold. Welch then felt his chest for a heartbeat. She indicated there was none. Welch testified that “the only thing that really came to my mind or maybe that didn’t come to my mind, the only thing that I did was I put my son in a trash bag.” Afterwards, Welch went into the living room and sat on the sofa with the bag next to her on the floor for approximately nine hours.
¶5. The next morning Welch placed the bag into a plastic garbage can on the back of her patio. This particular garbage can was never used for trash. Welch placed the can outside her bedroom window where it remained for several weeks.
Indefinite Suspension of Sentence
Patricia Simpson was convicted of Manslaughter in George County and has served three years of a fifteen year sentence
The paramedics were aware that Patricia had called 911 at approximately 8:00 p.m. to report that her husband “was cleaning a gun,” and it accidentally discharged. Patricia, who had spent the day doing last minute Christmas shopping, answered the door and led the paramedics to the kitchen, where they found Don lying face down on the floor with a .22 revolver near his knee. The paramedics were unable to find a pulse on Don’s body. It was determined that Don had sustained a single gunshot wound to the middle of his chest. Patricia then picked up the gun and put her finger on the trigger, allegedly to show the paramedics the weapon.
Three pathologists testified, two (one of whom was, of course, Stephen Hayne) that the wound was from 2 or more feet away and a third that it was a “contact” wound; the question was whether the victim killed himself or was shot by Simpson. The evidence was pretty thin, and the most suspicious thing about the case is the inconsistent stories Simpson told about the case.
Additionally, I can’t find any information about these, who all got pardons:
Larry Harper for Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Felony Possession of a weapon. He does not seem to be in prison.
Aaron Brown for Murder, concealed weapon, possession of a controlled substance
Leon Turner murder
Update: The total number was corrected as I went through the list. I picked up information about Aaron Brown and provide it in a subsequent post.