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Man pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour linked to deadly barbeque shootout

A man on a long list of people pardoned by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 2012 is a suspect in a shootout that left another man dead, the Jackson Free Press reported Friday.

Wayne "Honkey" Harris, who was one of 203 people pardoned during Barbour’s last week in office — touching off a storm of controversy and a legal battle — was attending a “friendly cookout,” on Thursday when he got into an argument that escalated into a gunfight, the Calhoun County Journal reported.

In the melee, Chris McGonagill was shot multiple times, allegedly by Harris, and died later at the hospital. Harris was shot twice, allegedly by McGonagill, and was hospitalized with a shattered femur and a bullet lodged in his side,  according to the Journal. Harris was due for surgery Friday afternoon, the report said.

Harris, whose gun was allegedly used in the shootout, was permitted to own a gun because of the 2012 pardon had wiped his record clean of a 2001 felony conviction for selling marijuana.

Three other men were present when the shooting occurred and were being questioned as witnesses, the Jackson Free Press reported, citing Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan.

Pollan told the Journal that at least 13 shots were fired, but they did not know who had fired first. No charged had been filed as of Friday evening.

Barbour pardons, many issued the day that his successor was inaugurated in January 2012, wiped the record clean for many people who had already served time for their crimes. It also granted release to some inmates and pardoned four people convicted of murder, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

Controversy over the list led to a legal challenge but the Mississippi Supreme Court in March ruled 6-3 to reaffirm the governor’s right to use his executive powers to grant clemency.

Barbour defended the pardons as well-considered acts of mercy, the Monitor reported, citing a statement he issued at the time:

"These were decisions based on repentance, rehabilitation, and redemption, leading to forgiveness and the right defined and given by the state constitution to the governor to offer such people a second chance."