Guest: Gatlin's pardon may not stand

There's a chance David Gatlin's pardon won't stand. He was convicted of murder, aggravated assault, and burglary in Rankin County in 1993, shooting and killing his wife as she held their baby.

Madison and Rankin County District Attorney Michael Guest says Gatlin may not have published notice of his pardon request in time.

"I am told Mr. Gatlin began publication but did not complete the publication at the time of his pardon. It had not been published for 30 days," Guest said.

Research is going on as we speak for the other violent offenders pardoned this week by outgoing Governor Haley Barbour. Another one out of Rankin County is Phillip Jackson, convicted of three separate felonies: grand larceny, DUI death of a child, and drug possession.

Governor Barbour says his decisions about clemency were based on the parole board's recommendation in more than 90 percent of the cases. But Guest says it was not the parole board's recommendation in the case of Gatlin or Jackson.

"We had sent a letter as well as copies of the files to parole board asking them to deny his parole. Since no one from the Governor's office had contacted us, we were unable to state our opposition to the Governor's office," Guest said. "The Governor, I'm assuming, did not have that at his disposal when those pardons were signed."

Guest also tells us, if any pardoned offender filed proper notice in the newspaper where the conviction occurred at any time in the past, as long as it was at least 30 days before the pardon, then the pardon will likely stand.

"We don't have to just look back 2-3 months, we have to look back an extended period of time," Guest said. "If they had previously published it, even several years ago, I believe that is going to meet the statutory requirements."

Guest says the pardons wouldn't have made much of a difference if they were non-violent crimes. "(But) for those violent offenses, sexual offenses, I think it's important for there to be a record of those crimes, that employers can access, that the general public can access, so you know the person living next to you is a sexual offender or has previously killed someone," he said.

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