Curtis Flowers: 5 Things To Know About The Controversial Case

Curtis Flowers has been tried six times for a quadruple homicide, and his conviction has been reversed four times.

August 27, 2019

Photo by: Mug shot of Curtis Flowers [Mississippi Department of Corrections]

Mug shot of Curtis Flowers [Mississippi Department of Corrections]

By: Catherine Townsend

Curtis Flowers from Winona, Mississippi, has been tried six times for the shooting deaths of four people at a furniture store in 1996.

In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed his conviction for the fourth time. It's been 22 years, and Flowers is still behind bars.

Here are five things to know about this controversial case.

1. Police Centered On Flowers Because He Worked At The Store.

Flowers began working at Tardy Furniture a few months before the murders. He was fired after he failed to properly secure a truck full of batteries, which resulted in the cells being smashed.

At trial, the district attorney suggested Flowers' motive for the quadruple homicide was revenge.

The four victims were the store owner, Bertha Tardy, 59; and three employees, Carmen Rigby, 45; Robert Golden, 42; and Derrick "Bobo" Stewart, 16.

2. Flowers' Convictions Were Overturned By Higher Courts Due To Prosecutorial Misconduct & Racial Discrimination.

Flowers was convicted of the aggravated murder and robbery of the store owner at the first trial in 1997. But the verdict was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Two other trials resulted in mistrials. Two other guilty verdicts were overturned when higher courts found evidence of prosecutorial misconduct by Doug Evans, the district attorney for Mississippi's Fifth Circuit Court District, and racial bias in jury selection.

On June 18, 2010, a jury in the sixth trial convicted Flowers and voted to impose the death penalty.

In 2019, the US Supreme Court in Flowers v. Mississippi (2018) reversed the conviction — for the fourth time — after finding that the district attorney had violated Flowers' constitutional rights by intentionally removing African Americans from the jury in 2010 at his sixth trial.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote the 7-2 majority opinion. He wrote the prosecution demonstrated a "relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals," which "strongly suggests that the State wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before a white jury."

3. Flowers, Along With His Father, Is An Accomplished Gospel Singer.

Archie Flowers has said that he and Curtis would sing together when he visited in prison.

Before the slayings, Flowers was the lead singer in Archie's gospel group, which performed at local churches.

4. The Flowers Case Made National Headlines After It Became The Subject Of A True Crime Podcast.

The Flowers case was the subject of a season of the APM Reports podcast "In the Dark."

Reporters spent a year in Mississippi investigating the case and uncovered evidence, including witnesses who recanted, that pointed to Flowers' innocence.

Clemmie Fleming, who testified in all six trials that she saw Flowers running from the Tardy store on the morning of the murders, told APM Reports she will not testify if there is a seventh trial.

In an interview with the "In the Dark" podcast, Fleming said she had told police she could not be sure of the date when she saw Flowers.

"The whole time I've been telling them, I don't remember the day," Fleming said. "I've been confused [about] the day from the beginning. I just didn't know how to say it. I was scared I was going to go to jail."

The second crucial witness was jailhouse informant Odell Hallmon, who testified Flowers told him he was responsible for the slayings.

But Hallmon stated in the podcast he made the statement to Evans to get a lighter sentence for himself. He said, "I helped them. They helped me. That's what it all boiled down to."

5. Even Though Flowers' Sentence Has Been Overturned Multiple Times, Many Of The Prior Jurors & Some Victims' Family Members Believe Flowers Is Guilty.

Randy Stewart, the father of Derrick Stewart, has stated on the "In the Dark" podcast he believes Flowers killed his son and the other three victims. "Curtis Giovanni Flowers murdered those four people," he told the podcast. "There's no doubt in my mind. I don't care how many choirs he sang or nothing. I believe in [a] tooth for a tooth [and] an eye for an eye and I think he needs to fry in hell."

The podcast also interviewed several jurors from Flowers' prior trials who indicated they believed the evidence pointed to Flowers being the person responsible.

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