Commutation anger victim’s family

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, July 19, 2008

Gov. Haley Barbour has commuted a convicted killer’s sentence after 19 years in prison, drawing outrage from the victim’s family.

The governor this week commuted 54-year-old Michael David Graham’s sentence for murdering Adrienne Klasky Graham. Graham has been in prison since 1989 and has been a trusty at the governor’s mansion for the last eight years.

“I’ve written a letter to Haley Barbour telling him that he should stay in prison,” said Graham’s niece, Nancy Northern. “He ruined my family and now the governor is giving him a second chance. No one gave my aunt a second chance.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Barbour’s spokesman, Pete Smith, declined to comment.

“We’ve released all of the information we are going to,” Smith said.

There are no restrictions on where Graham can live in the state, said Suzanne Singletary, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Singletary said the agency does not disclose relocation destinations for inmates.

“He will have to check in with parole officers once he’s released as if he’s on parole,” Singletary said. “He’ll always be a convicted felon. That won’t change.”

The commutation could be revoked if Graham does not meet parole terms, Singletary said.

Graham shot his ex-wife at close range with a shotgun as she sat in her car at a traffic signal in Pascagoula on April 7, 1989. The couple had been divorced for three years and she claimed he was stalking her and threatening her regularly.

Graham unsuccessfully tried to gain parole three times before the commutation. Northern said she and other family members asked the state parole board never to let him out of his original life sentence.

Smith said Thursday he’s unsure if Barbour consulted the parole board before making the decision to release him.

“He killed her in cold blood,” Northern said. “He shot her in the face. Even if he’s been a model prisoner, he does not deserve to be released.”