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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: 36680

Reported Deaths: 1250
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds304154
DeSoto200920
Madison150839
Jones123149
Harrison118316
Rankin113719
Neshoba104577
Forrest104343
Lauderdale97281
Scott83115
Jackson80419
Washington75313
Copiah67516
Leake63520
Lee63022
Grenada6259
Oktibbeha62328
Warren60021
Holmes59841
Lamar5847
Wayne56819
Yazoo5667
Lowndes54917
Leflore53956
Lincoln53835
Pike51120
Lafayette5094
Sunflower5058
Panola4616
Monroe46036
Simpson4533
Covington4505
Bolivar41618
Tate39513
Attala38624
Newton37710
Adams36720
Pontotoc3636
Marion34912
Claiborne31511
Pearl River30832
Chickasaw30219
Winston30211
Marshall2973
Jasper2826
Noxubee2799
Walthall2748
Clay26211
Smith25612
Union25612
Coahoma2356
Clarke22825
Lawrence2162
Yalobusha2089
Tallahatchie1974
Montgomery1863
Kemper18414
Carroll18311
Humphreys17410
Calhoun1705
Hancock15213
Itawamba1478
Tippah14711
Jefferson1373
Webster13511
Prentiss1274
Tunica1263
George1253
Jefferson Davis1254
Greene11610
Alcorn1112
Amite1113
Tishomingo1091
Quitman1011
Wilkinson1019
Perry914
Stone772
Choctaw764
Franklin572
Sharkey480
Benton470
Issaquena111
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 56441

Reported Deaths: 1136
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson7012170
Mobile5061140
Montgomery4599112
Tuscaloosa274353
Madison25359
Marshall205012
Shelby176425
Lee164737
Morgan13975
Baldwin134111
Walker111332
Elmore107622
Etowah106914
Dallas10189
DeKalb10017
Franklin95016
Unassigned77728
Autauga71515
Russell7130
Chambers68530
Cullman6686
Limestone6653
Butler65529
Houston6417
Tallapoosa63069
Lauderdale6006
St. Clair5983
Calhoun5545
Colbert5286
Escambia5128
Lowndes49222
Pike4805
Jackson4422
Coffee4364
Covington43512
Talladega4177
Dale4061
Barbour4022
Bullock37810
Hale36323
Marengo36111
Chilton3452
Blount3311
Clarke3236
Wilcox3158
Marion30914
Winston3095
Sumter29713
Pickens2786
Randolph2759
Monroe2683
Perry2552
Conecuh2388
Bibb2271
Macon2229
Choctaw22012
Greene2009
Henry1573
Washington1529
Lawrence1460
Crenshaw1343
Cherokee1317
Geneva1010
Fayette901
Clay892
Lamar891
Coosa671
Cleburne481
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