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Curtis Flowers seeks bail, end to charges

Curtis Flowers

Curtis Flowers, who's been tried six times for murder, asked a judge to free him on bail and throw out the charges against him in motions filed Thursday in state court.

Posted: Sep 20, 2019 9:50 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Mississippi man who's been tried six times for murder asked a judge to free him on bail and throw out the charges against him in motions filed Thursday in state court.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the convictions of 49-year-old Curtis Flowers in June, finding racial bias in jury selection. Prosecutors say Flowers killed four people in a Winona furniture store in 1996. He was sentenced to death in 2010's sixth trial.

Defense lawyer Rob McDuff argued in the filings made in Montgomery County Circuit Court that Mississippi law requires bail after two capital murder mistrials. Flowers' fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials after hung juries.

McDuff argued that not only must Circuit Judge Joseph Loper grant bail, but the judge must grant it on "reasonable and affordable terms."

The Mississippi Constitution allows judges to deny bail in capital cases when "the proof is evident or the presumption great" that a defendant is guilty. McDuff argues those conditions are no longer met after all the holes that have been poked in the prosecution's case, including a jailhouse informant and two witnesses who have recanted in recorded remarks to American Public Media's "In the Dark" podcast.

McDuff offered to let Loper impose electronic monitoring, but said that shouldn't be necessary, arguing that Flowers doesn't meet the profile of someone who's a flight risk or a danger to the community.

More significantly, McDuff argues that Loper should forbid a seventh trial for Flowers and quash the charges, citing prosecutorial misconduct and arguing there should be a limit to "oppressive retrials" for Flowers. There's little precedent in Mississippi for such a motion to throw out charges.

The motion notes that the Supreme Court has banned retrials when the prosecution acts wrongly to deliberately provoke a mistrial. McDuff says something like that has happened in the Flowers case, with four convictions overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. "In all four instances it was designed to illegally enhance the prosecution's chances of conviction of Flowers."

McDuff cites cases that suggest there should be limits to retrials, although the U.S. Supreme Court and Mississippi courts have never established a definitive limit. He also cites cases that say a judge can dismiss charges after a mistrial if the judge determines a retrial "is against the concept of fundamental fairness."

"Flowers' half-dozen trials are a study in the tactics and circumstances typifying oppressive prosecutorial misconduct," McDuff wrote.

McDuff declined to comment Thursday when asked if he would seek to remove Loper and Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans from the case.

It's unclear whether Evans will seek to try Flowers a seventh time. Evans is unopposed in his reelection bid this year for an eighth four-year term in a district that includes seven rural Mississippi counties. Evans has said he remains confident of Flowers' guilt, as have some relatives of victims. Prosecutors will have time to reply, and then Loper will have to decide if he wants to hear arguments. McDuff said he expects action within weeks.

The case began July 16, 1996, when four people were found shot to death inside Tardy Furniture in downtown Winona: 59-year-old owner Bertha Tardy and three employees — 45-year-old Carmen Rigby, 42-year-old Robert Golden and 16-year-old Derrick "Bobo" Stewart.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 98886

Reported Deaths: 2979
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7189161
DeSoto569464
Harrison394175
Jackson358570
Rankin337280
Madison334190
Lee293572
Forrest254275
Jones252780
Washington227879
Lafayette221240
Lauderdale2078126
Bolivar187370
Oktibbeha181952
Lamar176237
Lowndes160858
Neshoba1599104
Panola151631
Sunflower149146
Leflore143882
Warren141850
Pontotoc130116
Monroe125369
Pike124954
Copiah119933
Scott118027
Coahoma117530
Lincoln112353
Marshall111821
Grenada110136
Holmes110060
Yazoo106733
Simpson105847
Tate101938
Union101224
Leake96538
Adams94937
Wayne91521
Pearl River91453
Prentiss88418
Marion87537
Itawamba85921
Alcorn83411
Covington83223
George78513
Tallahatchie78324
Newton78124
Winston74619
Tishomingo71039
Tippah70518
Chickasaw69524
Attala67225
Clarke61149
Walthall60426
Clay59919
Hancock59822
Jasper58415
Noxubee55816
Smith55115
Calhoun52912
Tunica50015
Montgomery47020
Claiborne46516
Yalobusha44414
Lawrence43914
Perry43221
Quitman3905
Greene38917
Stone38013
Humphreys37715
Jefferson Davis34711
Amite34210
Webster33913
Carroll33112
Wilkinson30818
Kemper29115
Sharkey26714
Jefferson2439
Benton2333
Franklin1993
Choctaw1876
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 138162

Reported Deaths: 2405
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson20221352
Mobile13558295
Tuscaloosa9029118
Montgomery8894187
Madison800580
Shelby616450
Lee601761
Baldwin564052
Marshall398345
Etowah357545
Calhoun356944
Morgan334929
Houston295421
Elmore273948
DeKalb246121
St. Clair237937
Walker236987
Talladega219030
Limestone215720
Cullman192220
Dallas179926
Franklin179430
Autauga179127
Russell17903
Lauderdale175934
Colbert168426
Blount162915
Escambia162024
Jackson161112
Chilton160930
Dale141844
Covington141628
Coffee13936
Pike122011
Chambers117942
Tallapoosa117385
Clarke110916
Marion97629
Butler91740
Barbour8967
Winston75112
Marengo72820
Pickens67215
Randolph67213
Bibb66411
Lowndes65927
Hale65328
Geneva6505
Lawrence63625
Cherokee62013
Bullock61015
Clay5929
Monroe5928
Washington56012
Crenshaw54532
Perry5436
Conecuh53811
Wilcox53211
Henry5145
Macon48318
Fayette47311
Sumter43419
Cleburne4085
Lamar3822
Choctaw35212
Greene30615
Coosa1743
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