Woman speaks out after sister's killer is pardoned, released by Haley Barbour
Tiffany Brewer's sister was shot and killed by her husband, David Gatlin, in what she describes as a cold, methodical murder. Gatlin was pardoned recently by outgoing Gov. Haley Barbour, but critics say the pardons are not legitimate.
Mississippi's attorney general Jim Hood said Thursday his state may have to start a nationwide manhunt after four pardoned murderers left jail and "hit the road running."
The four were among more than 200 criminals pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour before he left office earlier this week. But while most of the 200 were legal, if not exactly ethical on Barbour's part, at least a few may have come in violation of a state law that requires pardon-seekers to publish their request in a local newspaper. Hood has stopped to overturn the pardons of those who failed to publish notice that they were seeking a pardon.
Tiffany Brewer's sister was murdered by one of the criminals pardoned by Barbour. She's outraged that the man who killed her sister would be released from jail and have not even a criminal record to show for his crimes.
"We're very fearful. Both families are fearful for our lives," she said. "We have protection in our house. We make sure the doors are locked, the windows are locked. We don't go outside without some kind of protection. It's very scary."
Brewer described herself as being scared that David Gatlin, who killed his wife, Brewer's sister, would come back "and finish what he started."
"It was a cold, malicious, well-thought out murder," she said.
P.S. Ruckman, a professor of political science at Rock Valley College, said we're in unprecedented territory here, with convicted criminals released from jail, ostensibly pardoned, only to have state police mobilized to find them after the legality of the pardons are questioned. But it could go further. There could be many, many others whose pardons were legitimately granted that may not have legally been pardoned.
"You figure, probably hundreds of people have not fulfilled the constitutional requirement, and yet no one has really said anything, no one has complained," Ruckman said. "It's just now that we have a situation where murderers and people who have committed violent offenses (have been pardoned), and someone has raised the constitution as an obligation in the process."
Ruckman said the vast majority of pardons, including most of those issued in this round by Barbour, are for people who are merely seeking to have their rights restored after committing minor offenses years and years ago. But the recent and violent nature of the crimes committed by some of these criminals is what has made this current batch so controversial.
"This batch is heavy on people who committed murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape, it is very heavy-handed that way," Ruckman said. "It is worthy of the investigation it is getting. And criticism."
Brewer pointed out that Gatlin was denied parole in December. Brewer said he family last Friday received a letter notifying them of the parole rejection, and saying that he would next be eligible for parole in October.
"The next morning, my mother got a call from the victims' advocates saying Gov. Barbour had pardoned him," Brewer said.
Brewer said it was her understanding she wasn't even eligible to get a restraining order against Gatlin, because legally he's been pardoned and hasn't done anything to warrant a restraining order being issued.
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