- Associated Press - Friday, July 4, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - One of Mississippi’s longest-running death penalty cases goes before the Mississippi Supreme Court on July 21 for oral argument.

In 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. The fourth conviction came in 2010. Flowers was sentenced to death.

Flowers, now 44, was convicted of capital murder for the July 16, 1996, fatal shootings of Tardy Furniture store owner Bertha Tardy, 59; 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. Court records show $398 was missing from the store cash register.

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 the latest high court case, Flowers’ attorney, Alison Steiner, argued no physical evidence links Flowers to the crimes. She said prosecutors presented a “series of witnesses intended to show that Flowers could have stolen a gun and was in the vicinity of the furniture store on the morning of the murders,” Steiner wrote.

Special Assistant Attorney General Melanie Thomas argued prosecutors provided substantial evidence that placed Flowers near the murder weapon, near the crime scene, with the missing money, with gunpowder on his hand, and with a reason to kill the employees of Tardy Furniture.

“Appellant is correct that no fingerprint or DNA evidence ties him to the crime. Appellant is also correct that portions of the witnesses’ testimony - for both the state and the defense - were inconsistent. However, the jury is in the best position to determine the credibility of the witnesses and the merits of the case,” Thomas said.

Steiner, an attorney for the Office of State Public Defender, said the evidence against Flowers was flimsy and constitutionally insufficient to support a conviction.

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