Tried Six Times for the Same Crime
As of 2019, Curtis Flowers had been tried six times for a quadruple murder of four employees that were working at a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi on July 16, 1996. Mr. Flowers is black; three of the four victims were white. During jury selection for the first two trials, the prosecutor used his preemptory strikes to remove all of the qualified black prospective jurors from the jury pool. In each case, the jury convicted Flowers and sentenced him to death. Both convictions were later reversed by the Mississippi Supreme Court based on prosecutorial misconduct. Similarly, at the third trial the same prosecutor again used all of his peremptory strikes against black prospective jurors, again the jury convicted Flowers and sentenced him to death, and again the The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed the conviction. This time the justices concluded that the prosecutors actions to eliminate black jurors was racial and in violation of Batson v. Kentucky. The same prosecutor tried a fourth and fifth time and both ended in mistrials. At the sixth trial, the prosecutor eliminated five prospective black jurors but allowed one black juror to be seated. The jury convicted Flowers and sentenced him to death. The Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the conviction.
SCOTUS ruled there was a "relentless, determined effort" by the prosecutor to "rid the jury of black individuals because he wanted to try Flowers before a jury with as few black jurors as possible, and ideally before an all-white jury." Thus SCOTUS vacated the conviction and sent it back to the state court to reconsider their ruling, and the Mississippi Supreme Court again upheld Flowers’ conviction. However, the new elements are that one key witness and one snitch, both vital to all the convictions, have recanted their testimony, both implicating the prosecutor in yet more misconduct. Still, it was up to the same prosecutor whether or not to have a seventh trial. Watch the WLBT Channel 3 news clip (click on button)