JACKSON, Mississippi – A Mississippi man released after nearly 23 years in prison filed a lawsuit Friday against the district attorney who prosecuted him six times for killing four people in a small-town furniture store.
Curtis Flowers was released in December 2019, about six months after the US Supreme Court overturned the sentencing and death sentence of his sixth trial, which took place in 2010. The judges said prosecutors showed a pattern. unconstitutional exclusion of African American jurors in the trials of Fiori, who is black.
The lawsuit filed Friday also names three investigators who worked with Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans as defendants. The county is not named as a defendant.
The lawsuit alleges that Evans and investigators behaved improperly, including “pressuring witnesses to fabricate claims about seeing Mr. Flowers in particular places on the day of the murders” and ignoring other possible suspects.
The Associated Press left a phone message for Evans in his office on Friday seeking an answer to the lawsuit. The call was not returned immediately.
The lawsuit doesn’t say how much money Flowers is looking for, leaving the decision to a jury.
“Curtis Flowers should never have been charged,” one of his attorneys, Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice, said in a press release Friday.
McDuff said the murders “were clearly the work of professional criminals” and Flowers, who was 26 at the time, had no criminal record.
“The prosecution was tainted with racial discrimination and repeated misconduct,” McDuff said. “This cause seeks accountability for that misconduct.”
In March, a judge ordered the state of Mississippi to pay Flowers $ 500,000 for wrongful detention, the maximum under a state law that allows up to $ 50,000 a year for 10 years. That didn’t stop Flowers from suing the district attorney and investigators, his lawyers said.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in September 2020 that Flowers would not be tried a seventh time because prosecutors no longer had credible witnesses and the evidence was too weak for another trial. Fitch took office in January 2020 and took control of the case after Evans stepped away from it.
Four people were killed on July 16, 1996, in the Tardy Furniture store in Winona. They were owner Bertha Tardy, 59, and three employees: Carmen Rigby, 45, Robert Golden, 42, and Derrick “Bobo” Stewart, 16. Tardy, Rigby, and Golden died at the scene, and Stewart died about a week later.
Relatives of some of the victims have maintained their belief that Flowers is the killer. Flowers’ attorneys say he’s innocent.
Flowers was convicted four times in the murders: twice for individual murders and twice for all four murders. Two other studies involving all four deaths ended in a mistrial. Each of his beliefs has been overturned.
The 2019 Supreme Court ruling came after American Public Media’s “In the Dark” investigated the case. The podcast recorded prison whistleblower Odell Hallmon in 2017 and 2018 retracting his testimony that Flowers confessed to him. The story of Hallmon’s confession had been key evidence in later trials, but he told the podcast on a smuggled cellphone from behind bars that his story was “a bunch of fantasies, a bunch of lies”.
The podcast also featured an analysis that found a long history of racial bias in Evans’ jury selection and found evidence to suggest that another man may have committed the crimes.
Following the June 2019 Supreme Court ruling, Flowers was banned from death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman and taken to a regional jail. He remained in custody because the original murder charge was still active and a judge released him on bail in December.
Winona is located near the intersection of Interstate 55, Mississippi’s main north-south thoroughfare, and US Highway 82, which runs east to west. It is located about a half hour drive from the plains of the Mississippi Delta. Of its 4,300 residents, approximately 54% are black and 41% are white.
[ https://www.rocetoday.com/curtis-flowers-is-suing-the-district-attorney-who-prosecuted-him-six-times/ https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf