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Man pardoned by former Mississippi governor involved in shooting

By Emily Le Coz

JACKSON, Mississippi (Reuters) - A man who was among roughly 200 felons pardoned a year ago by then-Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour as the Republican left office was involved in a gunfight on Thursday that left another man dead, authorities said.

The pardoned man, Wayne Harris, 56, of Slate Spring, Mississippi, was recovering at a medical center on Friday after receiving two gunshot wounds in his legs during an altercation that resulted in 51-year-old Chris McGonagill's death.

The two men were at a cookout on McGonagill's property with three other men when a fight erupted, said Calhoun County Sheriff Greg Pollan.

McGonagill and Harris fired shots at each other, McGonagill using a 9mm pistol and Harris shooting a .22-caliber rifle, Pollan said. The sheriff said alcohol was a potential contributing factor in the incident.

McGonagill died early on Friday from multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body, said Lafayette County Coroner Rocky Kennedy.

It was unclear on Friday whether Harris had fired in self defense or if he would be charged with a crime, the sheriff said.

"Charges are pending based on what we find out from the interviews," Pollan said.

The deadly incident happened one year to the day after Harris was pardoned by Barbour for a 2001 marijuana-sale conviction.

Harris had been out of prison since March 2002, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections. He was able to legally own a rifle after completing a rehabilitation course in 2007, according a circuit court employee in Calhoun County.

Barbour sparked an uproar when he issued some 200 pardons in January 2012 as he completed eight years in office. Among them were five inmates in prison and five others who had worked at the governor's mansion doing odd jobs, four of whom were serving life sentences for murder.

The state Supreme Court refused to void the pardons.

Barbour's spokeswoman said the former governor was traveling on Friday and unavailable to comment.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Greg McCune, Gary Hill)

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