African American Mississippi Man Starts Record Sixth Murder Trial
by Bill Quigley, Audrey Stewart and Davida Finger.
Bill is Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Audrey Stewart is a Mississippi native and a public school teacher in New Orleans. Davida Finger and Bill are professors at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org
An African American man, Curtis Flowers, made history this week when he became the first person in U.S. history to ever go on trial for murder six times for the same crime. Mr. Flowers has been in jail in Mississippi since 1996, accused of the murder of four people at a furniture store. Jury selection started this week in tiny Winona Mississippi, population 5,482.
Mr. Flowers has been in jail since 1996 awaiting trial and was previously tried for these murders in 1997, 1999, 2004, 2007 and 2008. All either ended in hung juries or overturned convictions. The five previous trials have already cost the State of Mississippi over $300,000.
Winona, known as the "Crossroads of Mississippi," is a small town in a small poor rural county 120 miles south of Memphis and about 100 miles north of Jackson Mississippi. Winona is in Montgomery County. The total population of the county is just over 12,000. The county is 45 percent African American. The median home value in Winona is $51,000.