A Mississippi man freed final yr after 22 years in jail is not going to be tried a seventh time in a quadruple homicide case, a choose dominated Friday after prosecutors instructed him they now not had any credible witnesses.
Curtis Flowers was convicted a number of occasions in a bloody slaying and theft at a small-town furnishings retailer in 1996. The U.S. Supreme Court docket threw out the newest conviction in June 2019, citing racial bias in jury choice.
“At present, I’m lastly free from the injustice that left me locked in a field for almost twenty three years,” Flowers stated in a press release launched by his lawyer. “I have been requested if I ever thought today would come. I’ve been blessed with a household that by no means gave up on me and with them by my aspect, I knew it will.”
Montgomery County Circuit Choose Joseph Loper signed the order Friday after the state lawyer normal’s workplace, which had taken over the case, admitted the proof was too weak to proceed with one other trial.
“Because the proof stands right now, there isn’t a key prosecution witness … who’s alive and out there and has not had a number of, conflicting statements within the file,” Assistant Legal professional Basic Mary Helen Wall wrote in a submitting offered to Loper on Friday.
4 individuals have been shot to loss of life on July 16, 1996, within the Tardy Furnishings retailer in Winona. They have been proprietor Bertha Tardy, 59, and three staff: 45-year-old Carmen Rigby, 42-year-old Robert Golden and 16-year-old Derrick “Bobo” Stewart. Kin of a few of the victims have maintained their perception that Flowers is the killer.
Flowers was convicted 4 occasions within the slayings: twice for particular person slayings and twice for all 4 killings. Two different trials involving all 4 deaths led to mistrials.
Every of Flowers’ convictions was overturned. In June 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court docket tossed out the conviction and loss of life sentence from Flowers’ sixth trial, which occurred in 2010. Justices stated prosecutors confirmed an unconstitutional sample of excluding African American jurors within the trials of Flowers, who’s Black.
Podcast casts doubt
The Supreme Court docket ruling got here after American Public Media’s Within the Darkish investigated the case. Crucially, the podcast recorded jailhouse informant Odell Hallmon in 2017 and 2018 recanting his testimony that Flowers had confessed to him. Hallmon’s story of the confession had been key proof in later trials, however he instructed the podcast on a contraband cellphone from behind bars that his story was “a bunch of fantasies, a bunch of mendacity.”
“The one witness who provided direct proof of guilt recanted his prior testimony, admitting he was mendacity when he stated Mr. Flowers made a jailhouse confession to the murders,” Wall wrote Friday.
The podcast additionally offered an evaluation discovering an extended historical past of racial bias in jury choice by Montgomery County District Legal professional Doug Evans, and located proof suggesting one other man could have dedicated the crimes. Evans stepped apart from the case after State Legal professional Basic Lynn Fitch took workplace in January.
“This prosecution was flawed from the start and was tainted all through by racial discrimination,” stated defence lawyer Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Heart for Justice. “It ought to by no means have occurred and lasted far too lengthy, however we’re glad it’s lastly over.”
After the Supreme Court docket ruling, Flowers was moved off loss of life row on the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and brought to a regional jail within the central Mississippi city of Louisville. He remained in custody as a result of the unique homicide indictment was nonetheless lively.
On the request of Flowers’ attorneys, Loper set bond at $250,000 US, with Flowers launched in December after 10 per cent of that quantity was posted. The choose dominated Friday that each one however $10 US of the $25,000 US ought to be returned to Matthew Popoli, who donated the cash to assist Flowers. Popoli had remained nameless till Friday.
Winona sits close to the crossroads of Interstate 55, the foremost north-south artery in Mississippi, and U.S. Freeway 82, which runs east to west. It a couple of half-hour’s drive from the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta. Amongst its 4,300 residents, about 48 per cent are Black and 44 per cent are white. Census Bureau figures present that about 30 per cent stay in poverty.