Rogelio V. Solis / AP
Jackson, Ms. A Mississippi man released after nearly 23 years in prison filed a lawsuit Friday against the attorney general who has tried him six times in the murders of four people in a small-town furniture store.
curtis flowers He was released in December 2019, about six months after the US Supreme Court overturned the conviction and death sentence from his sixth trial, which took place in 2010. The judges said prosecutors showed an unconstitutional pattern of excluding African-American jurors in the Flowers trials, who is black .
The lawsuit on Friday filed the names of three detectives as defendants who worked with Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans. The county is not named as a defendant.
The lawsuit says Evans and investigators engaged in misconduct, including “pressing witnesses to fabricate allegations about Mr. Flowers being seen at certain locations on the day of the murder” and ignoring other potential suspects.
The Associated Press left a phone message for Evans in his office Friday to request a response to the lawsuit. The call was not answered immediately.
The lawsuit did not say how much money Flores was seeking, and that decision was left to the jury.
“Curtis Flowers should not have been charged,” one of his attorneys, Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice, said in a news release Friday.
McDuff said the killings were “obviously the work of professional criminals” and that Flowers, who was 26 at the time, had no criminal record.
“The prosecution was characterized by racial discrimination and repeated misconduct,” McDuff said. “This lawsuit seeks accountability for this misconduct.”
In March, a Mississippi judge ordered $500,000 to be paid to flowers for wrongful imprisonment — the maximum under state law that allows up to $50,000 a year for 10 years. His lawyers said that did not stop Flowers from suing the attorney general and investigators.
Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said in September 2020 that Flowers would not stand trial for the seventh time because prosecutors no longer had reliable witnesses and the evidence was too weak for another trial. Fitch took office in January 2020 and took control of the case after Evans walked away from it.
Four people were shot on July 16, 1996, at Tardy Furniture Store in Winona. They were the owner Bertha Tardy, 59, and three employees: Carmen Rigby, 45, Robert Golden, 42, and 16-year-old Derek “Bobow” Stewart. Tardy, Rigby, and Golden died at the scene, and Stewart died about a week later.
Relatives of some of the victims maintained their belief that Flowers was the killer. Flores’ lawyers say he is innocent.
Flowers was convicted of four murders: twice for single murder and twice for all four murders. Two other trials involving all four deaths ended in errors. Both of his convictions were overruled.
2019 Supreme Court ruling It came after American Public Media’s “Into the Dark” investigated the case. Podcaster recorded detective Odell Holmon in prison in 2017 and 2018 retracting his testimony that Flowers had confessed to him. The story of Holmon’s confession was a key piece of evidence at later trials, but he told the podcast on a banned cell phone from behind bars that his story was “a bunch of delusions, a bunch of lies.”
The podcast also provided analysis that found a long history of racial bias in jury selection by Evans, and found evidence that another man may have committed the crimes.
Following the June 2019 Supreme Court ruling, Flowers was removed from the death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman and transferred to a regional prison. He remained in custody because the original murder indictment was still in effect, and a judge released him on bail in December.
Winona is located near the crossroads of Interstate 55, the main north-south artery in Mississippi, and US Highway 82, which runs east to west. It’s about a half-hour drive from the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta. Of its population of 4,300, about 54% are black and 41% are white.