By The Associated Press
WINONA — A jury heard opening arguments Thursday in the sixth capital murder trial of a 40-year-old man accused in the 1996 quadruple homicide at Tardy Furniture in Winona, a rural town in north Mississippi.
The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed three earlier convictions against Curtis Giovanni Flowers and two trials ended in mistrials.
District Attorney Doug Evans told jurors the evidence will prove Flowers had motive to commit the crimes and that it places him at the scene. Prosecutors have said Flowers was a disgruntled former employee with a motive: revenge against storeowner Bertha Tardy, who withheld most of his pay to cover the cost of merchandise he damaged. Court records show nearly $300 was missing from the business in Winona.
Killed were Tardy and three employees — bookkeeper Carmen Rigby, 45; delivery worker Robert Golden, 42; and Derrick Stewart, a 16-year-old high school baseball star who worked part-time at the store. Golden was black. The rest of the victims were white. All of the victims had been shot in the head.
Defense attorney Ray Charles Carter, during his opening statement, said the state can’t tie Flowers to the evidence.
“Mr. Evans and I don’t agree on a lot of things,” Carter said. “A terrible thing happened, a terrible thing. But that’s about the only thing Mr. Evans and I agree with.”
Circuit Judge Joseph Loper denied separate defense motions to dismiss the 12-person jury and three alternates, call in 300 additional jurors to the existing pool and delay the trial.
Testimony is set to begin Friday.