Michael Graham basically blew his ex-wife's head off with a shotgun at close range in 1989, and now his sentence has been commuted by the governor.
From the Mississippi Press:
Convicted killer's release triggers community anger
Nancy Northern said Friday that she's outraged her aunt's killer is being released from prison today -- courtesy of Gov. Haley Barbour -- after he served only 19 years of a life sentence.
The governor this week commuted 54-year-old Michael David Graham's sentence for murdering Northern's aunt, Adrienne Klasky Graham. Graham has been incarcerated 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," Northern said. "He ruined my family and now the governor is giving him a second chance. No one gave my aunt a second chance. He took her away from us -- her father, her mother, her children, my mother, all of us."
When contacted Friday and told of Klasky's family and the community being outraged over the governor's decision, Pete Smith, spokesman for Barbour, declined to comment, saying, "We've released all of the information we are going to."
There are no restrictions on where Graham can live in the state, said Suzanne Singletary, director of the communications division at the Mississippi Department of Corrections.
Klasky's family has heard rumors of Graham planning to live in Hinds County, but Singletary said the state agency does not disclose relocation destinations for inmates. Smith said Thursday that Graham will not live in Jackson County, but was unsure of the convicted felon's plans.
Singletary said details of Graham's commuted sentence are still being worked out.
"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."
Singletary called Graham's commuted sentence "an indefinite suspended sentence."
"It can be revoked," she said. "It all depends on his good behavior."
Graham shot his ex-wife at close range with a 12-gauge shotgun as she sat in her car at a traffic signal at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and Pascagoula Street on April 7, 1989. He left the scene, but later turned himself in to authorities at the urging of his attorney, Don Sigalas. The couple had been divorced for three years and she alleged he was stalking and threatening her regularly.
Jamie Hunter retired from the Pascagoula Police Department in June. As a young detective, Hunter was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene. He said Klasky's murder still haunts him.
"It's one of the most gruesome I've ever seen," said the 32-year law enforcement officer. "I still remember that day vividly."
Hunter said when he arrived, Klasky was still sitting in the driver's seat of her vehicle. Graham had pulled into the oncoming lane and fired from the right side of his truck into the driver's side of her car. The shot struck Klasky in the left temple, killing her instantly.
"It was at close range," Hunter said. "A shotgun blast to the head. It was gruesome."
Hunter said Klasky's father, Lyle, arrived on the scene and had to be consoled by officers. He was owner of then-Brumfield's Department Store and was just across the street from where his daughter was killed.
"It was very emotional," Hunter said. "It's a mistake to let him out of jail."
Hunter said the incident was difficult for the entire community on many levels.
"People thought we could indict him on a capital murder charge because it was premeditated," Hunter said, adding that he believes Graham planned his ex-wife's murder. "But that was not the way the law was written then. We charged him with what we could at the time. I wish we could have charged him with capital murder. I think he'd stalked her that day with the purpose of executing her -- that's exactly what he did -- execute her."
Northern described Klasky as a kind, gentle woman who loved to laugh.
"She was so funny," Northern said. "We used to make brownies together. She was a wonderful woman. He ruined my family. He should not be allowed to feel the sunshine, get an ice cream cone or see a rainbow. He should stay in prison for life like he was supposed to."
Graham has appeared before the state parole board three times since his incarceration, but was unsuccessful in his release attempts. Northern said she and other family members testified at those hearings that he should not ever be let out of prison. Smith said Thursday he's unsure if Barbour consulted the parole board before making the decision to release the convicted felon.
"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."
Hunter agreed with Northern.
"Some crimes that people commit do not deserve a second chance," Hunter said. "This was one of them."
Gov. Haley Barbour's office can be reached at 601-359-3150.