1. On June 7, 2010, Curtis Flowers became the first capital defendant in American history to go to trial six times on the same evidence.
2. On the morning of July 16, 1996, four people were brutally murdered at Tardy Furniture Store in Winona, Mississippi.
3. The victims were proprietor Bertha Tardy, aged 59, two white employees, Carmen Rigby, 42 and Bobo Stewart, 16, and a black employee, Robert Golden, 42.
4. The victims were killed execution-style by a bullet to the back of the head fired at close range.
5. In January of 1997, Curtis Flowers, a 26 year-old black man who had worked at Tardy Furniture for three days in early July, was charged with four counts of first-degree murder.
6. Prosecutors suggest that Flowers was enraged when the $82 cost of damaged merchandise was deducted from his pay check.
7. There is no fingerprint or DNA evidence in the case linking Flowers to the crime. The murder weapon was never recovered.
8. When eyewitnesses didn’t come forward voluntarily, a $30,000 reward was offered for evidence leading to a final conviction. Even then, investigators had to canvass the black side of town flogging the reward.
9. The two witnesses claiming to have seen Flower near the crime scene are an aunt and her niece who signed statements between 7 and 9 months after the crime. Neither woman had told friends and family members about seeing Curtis on the day of the Tardy murders.
10. Only two of the 105 interviews conducted in the Tardy investigation were videotaped. The investigative work product for most interviews consists of sketchy notes on a yellow pad.
11. Curtis Flowers had no criminal history when arrested and has been incarcerated for fourteen years without a single disciplinary write-up. Curtis sang in his father’s gospel group prior to arrest and currently leads the singing at prison worship services.
12. In mid-April, 2010, Curtis Flowers was transferred to the Leflore County Jail and placed on lockdown. Allegedly, Flowers had become too popular with the staff at the Montgomery-Carroll Corrections Facility. Prosecutor Doug Evans charges that Flowers was on such good terms with prison staff that “he had the run of the place down there.”
13. Curtis Flowers has been tried in 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007, 2008 & 2010.
14. Winona, the county seat of Montgomery County, is 55% white and 45% black.
15. In 1963, Fannie Lou Hamer and several other civil rights activists were brutally beaten by police officers in Winona.
16. Convictions in the first two Flowers trials were overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct.
17. During voir dire in the third trial, prosecutor Doug Evans used all fifteen strikes to eliminate African-American’s from the jury pool. The state Supreme Court saw this as evidence of racial bias and vacated the conviction.
18. In the fourth trial, five black jurors voted to acquit while seven white jurors voted to convict.
19. In the wake of the fourth trial in 2007, Winona Times editor Amanda Sexton argued that “Based on what happened in the last trial, the only way to prevent another mistrial due to a hung jury is to move the trial.”
20. The retired black school teacher who held out for an acquittal in trial five was charged with perjury. When the judge and prosecutor were recused from the case, the Attorney General’s office dropped the charges due to lack of evidence.
21. Under Mississippi law, only defense counsel can request a change of trial venue. The defense team believes that a local jury should try this case.
22. A bill that would enable the court to select a jury from a multi-county judicial district has been introduced in the last two sessions of the MS legislature. White legislators endorse the bill while black politicians oppose it.
23. Sponsors of “the Flowers bill” in the House and Senate are members of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a self-proclaimed “pro-white” organization that ended Trent Lott’s political career. The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified the CCC as a hate group.
24. Each trial has left the loved ones of the victims and the defendant emotionally drained. The racially divided community is desperate for resolution.
Coverage of the Flowers case should focus on two questions:
Why is this the only capital case in American history to go to trial six times on the same evidence?
What should a responsible prosecutor do when the state can’t get a conviction and the defense can’t get an acquittal?
Is this a case of prosecutorial tunnel vision?
How can the people of Winona move beyond the legal stalemate that has polarized and paralyzed their town?
(Special Thanks To 2010 W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Artivist Of The Year Rev. Alan Bean For Compiling This List, To Learn More About This Case And Others Please Visit His Excellent Website: http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com/ )