Appeal in ’96 Winona slayings back before Miss high court

Court NewsJACK ELLIOTT JR.,Associated Press

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Over the course of six trials, Curtis Giovanni Flowers has been convicted four times for the 1996 slayings of four workers at a Winona furniture store. Now, he is back before the Mississippi Supreme Court asking that his conviction and sentence be tossed out.

Two trials in Montgomery County ended with hung juries. Three trials ended in convictions, but the high court reversed them. Flowers’ fourth conviction came in 2010. He was sentenced to death.

In the latest high court case, prosecutors have until Aug. 19 to file a response to Flowers’ arguments. Flowers’ attorney will then have until Sept. 18 to file a rebuttal.

Flowers was convicted of capital murder for the July 16, 1996, fatal shootings of Tardy Furniture store owner Bertha Tardy, 59; and employees Carmen Rigby, 45; Robert Golden, 42; and Derrick “BoBo” Stewart, 16. All had been shot in the head.

Prosecutors described Flowers as a disgruntled employee who’d been fired from his job at the store. They said Flowers didn’t receive his last paycheck because the owner kept it as payment for golf cart batteries she believed he had damaged.

Defense attorneys argued that Flowers was at a relative’s home at the time of the murders and that no one saw him go in or come out of the store on the day of the murders.

In a brief filed June 18, Flowers’ attorney, Alison Steiner, argues that the prosecution’s evidence is “so flimsy as to be constitutionally insufficient to sustain the convictions.”

“No physical evidence ever linked Flowers to the crimes, but the prosecution presented a series of witnesses intended to show that he could have stolen (a) gun, and was in the vicinity of the furniture store on the morning of the murders,” Steiner wrote.

Among those testifying at Flowers’ 2010 trial was a woman who said she saw Flowers running out of the store at the time of the killings. Another witness, a firearms expert, testified that the residue found on Flowers’ right hand the day of the slayings was in a spot consistent with firing a handgun.

“The prosecution supplemented that testimony by attempting to connect Flowers to an empty box that once contained shoes of a make and model that could have produced a bloody print observed at the crime scene,” Steiner said.