- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Prosecutorial errors resulted in a Montgomery County jury convicting Curtis Giovanni Flowers a fourth time in the deaths of four workers at a Winona furniture story 18 years ago, defense attorneys argued Monday to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

In six trials, Flowers has been convicted four times for the 1996 slayings of four workers at a Winona furniture store.

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.

Sheri Lynn Johnson, a Cornell University law professor and assistant director of the Cornell Death Penalty Project, told the court there were holes in the prosecutors’ case against Flowers and they chose to plug those holes with misstatements to the jury about witness identification, Flowers’ actions on the day of the slayings and misrepresentations about other evidence.

Special Assistant Attorney General Melanie Thomas said there is testimony from witnesses who put 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.

And “factually we can say he had a beef with the store, he had problems with the store,” Thomas said.

Thomas said court records and testimony show Flowers was a disgruntled employee who’d been fired from his job at the store. She said Flowers didn’t receive his last paycheck because the owner kept it as payment for golf cart batteries she believed he had damaged.

Johnson said there was no evidence to support allegations that Flowers was angry with Bertha Tardy.

“No one ever said he was mad,” Johnson said.

Thomas said other family members told prosecutors that Bertha Tardy said she feared Flowers.

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