By Robbie Ward
STARKVILLE, Miss (Reuters) - A convicted Mississippi murderer who disappeared after he was pardoned and released from prison by former governor Haley Barbour has been found in Wyoming, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said on Monday.
Investigators found Joseph Ozment on Sunday in Laramie, Wyoming at a hotel where he registered under an assumed name, Hood said.
When he was discovered, Ozment jumped in his girlfriend's vehicle and fled, backing the vehicle into one of the investigators trying to serve him with a summons.
"He was knocked back by the car but thankfully was not seriously hurt," said Hood's spokeswoman, Jan Schaefer.
Investigators then enlisted the help of Laramie police and Ozment was served with the summons. He remains free but must appear in court on Friday.
Ozment was one of five inmates released by Barbour whose pardons were questioned by Hood for failure to meet the provisions of the Mississippi constitution.
The five men, four serving life sentences for murder and one for armed robbery, were pardoned after they worked at the Governor's Mansion doing odd jobs while Barbour was in office.
Four of the five men were located but Ozment disappeared after the pardon. The five are expected to appear at a court hearing on the pardons in Mississippi on Friday.
Conservative Republican Barbour issued some 200 pardons earlier this month as he completed his second term in office, sparking criticism that he was abusing the system.
Ozment, 40, had been serving a life sentence for the 1993 robbery and shooting death of a store clerk in northwest Mississippi.
After Barbour issued the pardons, new Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant announced he would no longer allow inmates to work at the Governor's Mansion and would support efforts to limit the authority to pardon inmates serving time for violent crimes.
(Editing by Greg McCune)