Mississippi Man Freed After Being Convicted for Murder Six TimesA recent CBS segment reported that a Mississippi man spent nearly half his life in jail for the murder of four people. Thanks to work from an investigative podcast and investigative reporters, the man was permanently released. He can breathe easy knowing that his convictions have been overturned and that he doesn’t have to live with the daily fear of being on death row.

60 Minutes, which aired the story, said this was the first time they’d ever reported a story where a man had been convicted six times for the same crimes. Curtis Flower was tried all six times by the same prosecutor.

He might still be on death row if not for the work of a team of reporters from an investigative podcast.

The story began when four people were killed in Winona, Mississippi on a July morning in 1996. The murders occurred at the Tardy Furniture store. The store owner, a delivery man, the owner of the store, and a 16-year-old were killed, execution-style. Nobody saw the murders.

The CBS profile

During an interview by Sharyn Alfonsi, a CBS reporter, Mr. Flowers said his heart dropped when he heard of the murders. Flowers had worked at the store for three days, but he was fired after he stopped showing up. After several months, Flowers moved to Texas to live with his sister. It was at his sister’s home that he was arrested for the four deaths on four counts of murder. Flowers exclaimed, “Are you sure you got the right guy?’

Flowers had no prior criminal record. He “was more likely to be on stage with a gospel group than in handcuffs.” There was no direct evidence (fingerprints, DNA evidence, or a murder weapon) linking Flowers to the deaths. Nevertheless, an all-white jury convicted him in about one hour. Flowers, then 17, was sentenced to the Mississippi state penitentiary. He had been sentenced to death. Flowers said the prison, known as Parchman prison, was nerve-wracking.

The first conviction was overturned. The prosecutor then tried him five more times. Four times, the convictions were also overturned. Two times, there was a hung jury. Flowers was in prison for the sixth conviction when investigators and the podcast began to examine the story. A lawyer, Rob McDuff, of the Mississippi Center for Justice joined Curtis Flowers’ legal team in 2019. Three of the convictions were overturned for prosecutorial misconduct. According to McDuff, the misconduct included misrepresentations by the prosecutor regarding the submission of evidence to the jury and because of discrimination in the selection of the jury.

The CBS story continued with an interview of Madeleine Baran, “the lead reporter for American Public Media’s podcast ‘In the Dark.’” Ms. Baran’s team of people stayed in Winona for a year interviewing hundreds of people. They found that the evidence against Mr. Flowers just didn’t hold up. For example, Ms. Baran stated, Flowers supposedly didn’t have a gun – so he “walked across town, stole a gun from a car, walked home, still angry. Left his house, walked with the gun to the furniture store, shot four people in the head, walked home.” This summary seemed very unlikely for anyone who would have wanted to hide his conduct.

The podcast review found that nobody had called the police to say they saw something suspicious. The investigators said that law enforcement officials essentially told the witnesses what they were supposed to have seen, and it was just up to the witnesses to agree to it. The investigation disclosed that one woman, according to CBS, wasn’t being truthful and another witness, a career criminal, apparently recanted his statements by admitting “he made the story up about Curtis [Flowers] confessing.”

The CBS story also stated that the investigators, after reviewing decades of court information, revealed that the prosecutor “had a history of excluding black people from juries at a disproportionate rate.” “In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Evans and the state of Mississippi had violated Curtis Flowers’ constitutional rights and overturned his conviction. Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that there was a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of Black individuals.”

Curtis Flowers was released on bail though he was required to use an ankle monitor. Subsequently, the Mississippi attorney general’s office dismissed all the charges against Curtis Flowers. They stated – there won’t be a seventh trial.

On a heartwarming note, the story ended with a view of Mr. Flowers singing. The story noted that during this ordeal, Flowers “never lost his voice.”

At Taylor Jones Taylor, our Southaven criminal defense lawyers fight aggressively for all defendants. Since 1964, we’ve helped many defendants obtain acquittals and dismissals of criminal charges. We’ve negotiated many just plea bargain agreements. Our lawyers also file appeals for many reasons including prosecutorial misconduct and discrimination in the selection of juries. Our defense lawyers fight for defendants charged with crimes in Olive Branch, Southaven, Hernando. To speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer call us today at 662.342.1300 or complete our contact form.