Judge drops charges against Curtis Flowers, tried 6 times for murder

Updated: Sep. 4, 2020 at 6:08 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Circuit Judge Joseph Loper dropped the charges against Curtis Flowers on Friday.

The order, signed by Attorney General Lynn Fitch, states, “it is in the interest of justice that the State will not seek an unprecedented seventh trial of Mr. Flowers.”

Tardy Furniture Shooting Victims
Tardy Furniture Shooting Victims(WLBT Archives)

Flowers was charged with murder in the deaths of four people at Tardy Furniture in Winona, Mississippi, in July of 1996. Carmen Rigby, Robert Golden, Bobo Stewart and Bertha Tardy were all killed.

“The case against Curtis Flowers never made sense,” Flowers’ attorney Rob McDuff said. “He was 26 years old with no criminal record and nothing in his history to suggest he would commit a crime like this. As time went by, even more evidence emerged to corroborate his innocence. This prosecution was flawed from the beginning and was tainted throughout by racial discrimination. It should never have occurred and lasted far too long, but we are glad it is finally over.”

Flowers stood trial six times. Two of the trials ended in hung juries, and the other four resulted in convictions that were later overturned due to various forms of prosecutorial misconduct.

Each time, the prosecutor was District Attorney Doug Evans. In January 2020, District Attorney Doug Evans, who prosecuted Flowers in all six trials, filed a motion to recuse himself from the case and asked that it be transferred to the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

“Today, I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for nearly twenty three years,” Flowers said in a statement. “I’ve been asked if I ever thought this day would come. I have been blessed with a family that never gave up on me and with them by my side, I knew it would.”

Flowers, who maintains his innocence, has been living out-of-state while out on bond. As a result of the dropped charges, the court will refund the $25,000 bond.

Mississippi Center for Justice says the decision is a major win.

“This is a monumental victory,” CEO Vangela Wade said. “Over the past year, the Mississippi Center for Justice represented Curtis Flowers and helped to bring about a favorable conclusion of this tragic case. Today the burden of further injustice has been lifted from Mr. Flowers, but fair treatment in our criminal justice system should never require the extraordinary resources behind this long-delayed outcome.”

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