Tuesday, December 10, 2019
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A judge has set a new site for next week's bail hearing for a Mississippi man who has been tried six times for murder in the 1996 shooting deaths of four people in a furniture store.
The Administrative Office of Courts said Monday that Curtis Flowers' hearing will take place Dec. 16 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Winona.
Last seek, Circuit Judge Joseph Loper said the hearing would be held on that date at the Webster County Courthouse in Walthall. Court officials said Loper was set to take care of other business in Webster County that day, but his schedule has changed and he moved Flowers' hearing to the county where Flowers is charged.
Prosecutors accuse Flowers, now 49, of killing four people on July 16, 1996, in the north Mississippi town of Winona. Those slain in the Tardy Furniture business were 59-year-old store owner Bertha Tardy and three employees — 45-year-old Carmen Rigby, 42-year-old Robert Golden and 16-year-old Derrick "Bobo" Stewart.
Four convictions for Flowers in the case have been overturned, and two ended in mistrials.
During the sixth trial in 2010, Flowers was sentenced to death. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned that conviction in June, finding that prosecutors had shown a pattern of improperly excluding African American jurors in the trials of Flowers, who is black.
Lawyer Rob McDuff is asking Loper to free Flowers on bail. McDuff cites prosecutorial misconduct as he seeks to have the murder charges dismissed. Evans has not said whether he intends to try Flowers a seventh time.
McDuff argues that Mississippi law requires bail after two capital murder mistrials. Flowers' fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials.
Flowers is jailed in the central Mississippi town of Louisville.
In mid-November, four black voters and a branch of the NAACP filed a federal lawsuit asking a judge to permanently order Evans and his assistants to stop using peremptory challenges to remove African American residents as potential jurors because of their race.
The lawsuit cites an analysis of jury strikes by Evans from 1992 to 2017 by American Public Media’s “In the Dark” podcast. It found Evans office used peremptory strikes, which lawyers typically don’t have to explain, to remove 50% of eligible black jurors, but only 11% of eligible white jurors. The analysis was performed as part of a series of episodes questioning Flowers’ conviction in his sixth trial.