January 21, 2012 12:15:00 AM
JACKSON -- Gov. Phil Bryant has ended a decades-long practice of state prison trusties working at the Governor's Mansion.
Bryant told The Clarion-Ledger that Thursday was the last day for trusties assigned to the mansion.
Bryant's announcement comes amid ongoing controversy over former Gov. Haley Barbour's decision Jan. 6 to pardon four murderers and one robber who were mansion trusties during his second term.
Bryant has said he is not criticizing Barbour's actions and that he had planned to make changes to the mansion trusty system anyway.
"As governor, Bryant first discontinued the practice of inmates spending the night on the mansion grounds and then the tradition of pardoning those individuals," spokesman Mick Bullock said. "Bryant stated that he would work towards phasing out the use of trusties at the mansion, and that last phase of Bryant's plan was completed."
Bryant's decision means the six new trusties who have been working at the Governor's Mansion since Jan. 3 will be reassigned.
The six trusties under Bryant included four convicted of murder, one convicted of driving drunk and causing two deaths and another convicted of selling cocaine. Their duties included general maintenance and landscaping.
Bryant had already ordered that the trusties not live at the mansion, so the Mississippi Department of Corrections was transporting them daily from Central Mississippi Correctional Facility in Pearl.
The most recent mansion trusties were:
-- Michael Bolton, 36, was convicted in Harrison County. He began serving a life sentence in 1998 for his role in the murder of Rickey L. Spratt, a taxi driver, during a 1996 robbery.
--Vernon Catchings, 57, was convicted in Hinds County. He began serving a life sentence in 1993 for the murder of Major Cassidy on Nov. 3, 1990. The two got into a fight at convenience store. Cassidy died later of his injuries.
--Ryan Crick, 29, was convicted in Oktibbeha County. He began serving a 60-year sentence in 2009 for three counts of aggravated DUI and one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving injury or death. Crick, then a state game warden, had been drinking when he drove his friend's Jeep Wrangler with three passengers. The Jeep veered off the road and overturned and two of the passengers died.
--Terrance George, 35, was convicted in Madison County in 2010 and began serving an 18-year sentence for two counts of sale of cocaine.
--Joseph Horton, 66, was convicted in Hinds County and began serving life sentences in 1995 for the murders of Troy Smith and Clinton Harris during an altercation at a bar in Edwards.
--Boman Tanner, 45, was serving a life sentence out of Hinds County. He was convicted in 1997 of the murder of Verna Wood, his elderly Jackson neighbor who caught him in her home.
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