Flowers convicted again in ’96 store slayings

Published 2:44 am Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Montgomery County jury on Friday convicted Curtis Flowers in the 1996 slayings of four people at a furniture store in Winona, according to the circuit clerk’s office.

The trial was the sixth held in the case against Flowers, who worked briefly at the store.

Flowers was convicted of capital murder in the gunshot deaths of 59-year-old Bertha Tardy, owner of Tardy Furniture, and three employees: 45-year-old Carmen Rigby, 42-year-old Robert Golden, and 16-year-old Derrick “BoBo” Stewart.

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District Attorney Doug Evans was seeking the death penalty. The sentencing phase was under way on Friday.

The Mississippi Supreme Court reversed three convictions against Flowers and two other trials ended in mistrials.

The bulk of the evidence against Flowers at his trials have been bloody footprints, gunpowder residue found on him and testimony from witnesses who placed him near the scene of the crime.

Prosecutors have said Flowers was a disgruntled former employee who sought revenge against Tardy because she withheld most of his pay to cover the cost of merchandise he damaged. Court records show nearly $300 was missing from the business in Winona.

Defense attorney Ray Charles Carter told jurors, however, that the state couldn’t tie Flowers to the evidence.

Among those testifying during the latest trial was Clemmie Flemming, who said she saw Flowers running out of the store at the time of the killings on July 16, 1996.

Firearms expert David Balash had testified that the residue found on Flowers’ right hand the day of the slayings was in a spot consistent with firing a handgun.