STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

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.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20784248
Hinds19894408
Harrison17493302
Rankin13316275
Jackson13099243
Madison9896210
Lee9859169
Jones8293160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7189237
Lowndes6265144
Lamar610784
Lafayette6028117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4770129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4420139
Warren4281118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403775
Neshoba3988176
Lincoln3871108
Hancock372185
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322781
Pike3181104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296876
Copiah293065
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284868
Prentiss275659
Marion265979
Wayne261341
Leake261173
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245982
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213373
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175540
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158634
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126323
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120141
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81923
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 519071

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754131487
Mobile37774798
Madison33868494
Tuscaloosa25283443
Montgomery23969565
Shelby23112238
Baldwin20638300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14286311
Morgan14140268
Etowah13664345
Marshall11957219
Houston10383278
Elmore9994200
Limestone9814147
Cullman9475188
St. Clair9429234
Lauderdale9218227
DeKalb8747181
Talladega8060171
Walker7092275
Jackson6755110
Autauga6727103
Blount6488135
Colbert6205130
Coffee5401112
Dale4768110
Russell428938
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia388074
Dallas3527149
Chambers3500122
Clarke346360
Marion3066100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256458
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224955
Hale218775
Butler212366
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171540
Washington164038
Macon154848
Clay149454
Crenshaw149357
Cleburne146041
Lamar139334
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99328
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 56°
Columbus
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 54°
Oxford
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 52°
Starkville
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 50°
Clouds increase a bit more on Tuesday, though there will still be plenty of sunshine at times. Temperatures will remain very warm. An isolated sprinkle or shower is possible later in the day, though rain chances are much more likely into Wednesday as a cold front passes.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather