Barbour Gives Relief to 4 ‘Domestic' Killers, of 5 Total | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Barbour Gives Relief to 4 ‘Domestic' Killers, of 5 Total

Gov. Haley Barbour is just following Mississippi tradition, his office says, when he frees killers working in his mansion. Four of them killed wives and girlfriends.

Gov. Haley Barbour is just following Mississippi tradition, his office says, when he frees killers working in his mansion. Four of them killed wives and girlfriends. Photo by Courtesy Mac Gordon

Also see: Barbour Helps Domestic Killers, Jackson Free Press, July 28, 2008
Editorial: Barbour, Clean Up the Mess, Aug. 6, 2008
Editorial: Women's Fund Gets It Wrong, April 28, 2010
Domestic Terrorism, Oct. 6, 2010 (Includes new details about Klasky's murderer)
JFP Archive: Domestic Violence in Mississippi

Bobby Hays Clark murdered on-again, off-again girlfriend Veronica Conner in 1996 by shooting her in the neck with a 25-caliber automatic, hitting her carotid artery. Clark broke into Conner's house on Wood Street in Batesvillle, Miss., and found her in bed with her current boyfriend. Clark beat the boyfriend with a mop handle before he murdered Conner.

"Veronica and Bobby, they kind of separated," Captain Paul Shivers of the Batesville police detective division told the Jackson Free Press. "She did want to get away from him, but she was still talking to him." Shivers echoed a familiar refrain when he said that women in domestic abuse situations feel "obligated" to their abusers somehow. Shivers believes Conner had filed misdemeanor charges against Clark in the weeks prior to her murder.

"Griffin (Conner's boyfriend) … was hiding under the bed because he was afraid he was going to get shot," Shivers said. "That's a good place to be, 'cause he's still living. … What's to keep you from getting rid of the witness?"

Originally charged with capital murder, Clark pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of manslaughter, plus aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in October 1996. He received a sentence of 18 years on the manslaughter charge and 20 years suspended on the aggravated assault charge. He was released on probation in April 2008. Clark was previously convicted for aggravated assault in 1983.

Apparently, Gov. Barbour did not notify Conner's family of Clark's pardon prior to his release. Shivers received instructions from the district attorney's office to notify the family just this past week; to his knowledge, the family did not know of the pardon until one of his officers went to their home.

A Jackson Free Press investigation shows that Clark joins Paul Joseph Warnock and Clarence Jones as domestic murderers pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour, who also suspended Michael Graham's murder sentence in July, setting him free. Graham was convicted in 1989 for murdering his ex-wife, Adrienne Klasky Graham, by shooting her in the head with a 12-gauge shotgun at point-blank range.

Since the beginning of the year, Barbour has pardoned one other murderer, Willie James Kimble.

Kimble and two accomplices lured elderly Luther Roberts out of his house, then murdered and robbed him in 1991. A Leake County jury found Kimble guilty of murder and sentenced him to life in prison in May 1992.

Additional reporting by Sophie McNeil and Maha Mohamed.

See also:

Barbour Helps Domestic Killers, Jackson Free Press, July 28, 2008
Raw Emotions Greet A Murderer's Release, CBS News, Aug. 2, 2008

CORRECTION APPENDED:

The story has been edited to remove Larry Harper from the list of prisoners Barbour has pardoned or suspended. In fact, Larry Harper has not received a pardon at all; former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove suspended his sentence Jan. 12, 2004.

Last week, Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Christopher B. Epps told the Biloxi Sun-Herald that Larry Harper, convicted in Scott County on charges of homicide, aggravated assault and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon in June 1999, received a suspended sentence from Barbour in December 2006.

The Department of Corrections then corrected the statement to say that Musgrove suspended Harper's sentence in January 2004, and that Barbour had pardoned him in July 2008.

The Department of Corrections then corrected themselves again, saying that Musgrove suspended Harper's sentence in 2004 and Barbour did not pardon him.

The MDOC correction means that of five prisoners Barbour has assisted in recent weeks, four were for men who killed wives or girlfriends.

Info on Harper, whose sentence was suspended by Musgrove:

Larry Harper confessed to murdering Willie R. Roberts in January 1983 after Roberts evicted him from Eddie's Café for "starting trouble," according to the Jan. 9, 1983, Scott County Sheriff's department offense report. Harper was re-arrested in April 1999 on charges of aggravated assault and possession of a firearm by a felon. In that incident, Harper rammed another vehicle, brandished a weapon and ran a car off the road and into a ditch following an argument with the vehicle's occupants.

Previous Comments

ID
132816
Comment

I have a question about domestic abuse. Why don't most people believe wives/girlfriends when they tell them that their husband/boyfriend has been abusing them. I know 2 women who were abused by their husband and when they told people only their closest female friends (I think I was the only male) believed it. These women's parents didn't even believe it. What the hell is wrong with these people? I would believe my child before someone else.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2008-08-04T15:32:21-06:00
ID
132818
Comment

The hiding of that boyfriend under the bed distresses me. Getting whipped by a broomstick? I sho hope it was made of metal otherwise I expect a man to walk through that wood broom stick and save the woman and himself. Ladies don't date a man who can't fight. Can this be made any clearer. The hiding boyfriend mush have really loved her. Ignore me though cause I'm not right bright. These pardons are quite interesting to say the least.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-08-04T15:45:05-06:00
ID
132819
Comment

BubbaT, in some cases it may be that these people are so afraid of reprisal from the abuser, or having their help undermined by the accuser who often ends up going back to their abusing spouse or partner, that they would rather live in denial and turn their back on a cry for help.

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2008-08-04T15:48:48-06:00
ID
132820
Comment

It can be all kinds of reasons. Some people are very affable and know how to play up to people. Some women are so impressed that a friend found an excellent financial provider (professional man) that they can't stand the thought of seeing the friend lose all of that, or they don't believe the man can be that bad.

Author
Walt
Date
2008-08-04T15:54:32-06:00
ID
132821
Comment

I hear you, BubbaT. I hear you. I've known parents of abuse victims who tell the woman that it's her responsibility "to keep her family together." I've been in several situations where I tried to convince a woman who wanted to leave to leave, and her parents convinced her to stay. We can't escape that there is a lot of sexit stankin'-thankin' about women still lurking in this state. And Barbour's little pardon spree brings that home in a shocking way. Did he really think no one would notice how many are "domestic"? Actually, maybe few would have noticed the string of them. It's not like anyone else has reported it, yet, other than CBS quoting us. These pardons are horrifying. All of them, not just the "domestic" ones, although that pattern is really disturbing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-04T16:06:14-06:00
ID
132824
Comment

Why don't most people believe wives/girlfriends when they tell them that their husband/boyfriend has been abusing them. Perhaps, it could be the type of persona the husband/boyfriend displays when in front of her friends and family. Sort of like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. They may believe the man is so friendly that he would be incapable of doing something so sinister.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-08-04T16:54:39-06:00
ID
132834
Comment

Why is it still ok to publicly and openly hate women? Some people are just blatant with their discrimination and disrespect for women. Male politicians hurl insults at each other by comparing one another to women. Barbour doesn't think a domestic killing is a real murder. You know, the 'she had it coming' attitude. Not to mention, the repub candidate for president, John McCain, and his open hatred of women. McCain made a joke about Chelsea Clinton being ugly because Janet Reno was her father. He also joked about how women love to be raped (Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tried to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, “Where is that marvelous ape?”) Mr. Sanctity of Marriage also cheated on his first wife with his current wife. He called his wife a trollop and a 'c-word' in public. His latest ads compare Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears (ok, I know, they aren't great representatives for women, but it still shows McCain's hatred for woman and that he views them as being a lesser people). Sorry to jump from Barbour to McCain, but it's the same thing. They feel like they are superior to women. Degrading jokes, adulterous affairs, rape, domestic murder... none of it is a big deal to these people as long as it happens to a woman. The last thing we need is another "leader" with mommy issues.

Author
Tre
Date
2008-08-05T09:02:31-06:00
ID
132840
Comment

I agree, Tre!!!! About time this anti-woman bias is brought into the light. The repubs have moved us backwards in time for 20 years now, it's time for the pendulum to again swing the other way, toward higher regard for women.

Author
Izzy
Date
2008-08-05T09:40:50-06:00
ID
132851
Comment

The Panolian in Batesville reports today on Barbour's pardon of Bobby Hays Clark. Some good stuff there: Barbour signed Executive Order 1,000 on July 16 that gave Clark an unconditional pardon. Batesville Police Chief Tony Jones said he was angry when he learned that Barbour had pardoned Clark. “What I want to know is, why is a murderer out walking the street?” asked Jones. Jones was a police major when he videoed the crime scene at 105 Wood Street. Clark’s prison term included a 20-year suspended sentence for aggravated assault and a three-year suspended sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon. Clark had been charged with aggravated assault for using the mop handle to beat Arthur Griffin, whom he had discovered in the home. The firearm charge came after Clark had been convicted of an earlier aggravated assault charge that occurred in 1983, Batesville police said last week. The governor’s executive order does not mention the earlier conviction for aggravated assault. That omission should prohibit Clark for obtaining a firearm, said Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale. [...] Barbour’s executive order made note of Clark’s work at the mansion, describing him as a “diligent and dedicated workman.” Contacted last week by The Panolian, Barbour spokesman Pete Smith defended the governor’s pardon in historical terms. Former governors have also pardoned felons, he said, often creating controversy when they so. “Historically governors have reviewed cases such as Bobby Clark and after a thorough review of the case have issued pardons for them,” Smith said. “Governors for a very long time have done this.” Be sure to go read the whole piece. Nice work up there.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-08-05T11:04:11-06:00
ID
132905
Comment

Please someone do something about Domestic Violence in Mississippi email me at bwaremomjsm@yahoo.com

Author
bware
Date
2008-08-07T09:33:21-06:00
ID
154392
Comment

This work by Ronni Mott here—helped by former interns Sophie McNeil of USM (who dug up the evidence that most of these guys killed wives and girlfriends) and Maha Mohamed of Tougaloo—revealing Barbour's pardon record on killers of women is finally getting the national attention it deserves, more than a year after our investigation. Better late than never. Cheers to Reason's Radley Balko, who not only is writing out our story in Slate and beyond, but being enough of a class act to give credit where it's due. Cheers, Radley. And remember that we run Radley's criminal justice column every Tuesday in the JFP Daily (subscribe free at http://www.jfpdaily.com). Caution if you're a partisan: Radley's a libertarian and, like us, doesn't care what party he offends!

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-12-18T16:55:00-06:00
ID
160382
Comment

Ronni and Sophie's coverage of Barbour's pardon's from 2008 (above) is the basis for a Bob Herbert column in the New York Times today comparing these pardons with the fact that the Scott Sisters are still sitting in prison. He also quotes Radley Balko's column in Slate, which is about our report (and to Radley's credit, links to the original source of the information). Thanks to this circle of people trying to get this truth out about Barbour.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T06:59:05-06:00
ID
160383
Comment

It is funny that Bob attributes this part to the Slate column, as Radley says clearly in that column that he was talking about reporting by the JFP: • Paul Joseph Warnock was pardoned by Governor Barbour. He was serving life for the murder of his girlfriend in 1989. According to Slate, Warnock shot his girlfriend in the back of the head while she was sleeping. But we are happy that the NY Times has picked this up, and we're rather used to national (or state) media not giving our reporters full credit for our enterprise work. Often, they don't give us any credit, so we do appreciate it. It is important to us in Mississippi that the world know not every media outlet is unwilling to do these kinds of stories about powerful politicians like Barbour. We're not all alike here.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2010-10-16T07:07:33-06:00
ID
160629
Comment

I agree too, Tre!!!! About time this anti-woman bias is brought into the light.

Author
roman56leblanc
Date
2010-10-31T17:14:56-06:00

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