HED:Capital murder trial begins today

By Michaela Gibson Morris

Daily Journal

The capital murder trial of a man accused of murdering four people at a Winona furniture store last year is set to begin today at the Lee County Justice Center.

A Lee County jury is scheduled to be selected today to decide if Curtis G. Flowers, 26, of Winona, is guilty of shooting one of the victims, Bertha Tardy, to death at her furniture store in Winona on July 17, 1996.

The case, which will be heard before 5th District Circuit Court Judge Clarence E. Morgan, was moved to Lee County because of the publicity surrounding the slayings in Montgomery County.

Morgan refused Friday to consolidate the four cases, contending he had no authority to try the murder cases together because the grand jury issued separate indictments.

In any case, the decision was within the judge's discretion and justice would be best served by conducting separate trials, Morgan ruled.

No dates were set for the other three trials.

Tardy and three employees, Derrick Stewart, an all-star prep baseball player, Carmen Rigby and Robert Golden all died after they were shot in the head at the Tardy Furniture store during an apparent robbery.

Flowers, who had been briefly employed at the furniture store, was charged with capital murder in January, nearly six months after the slayings.

He was arrested in Plano, Texas, where he moved shortly after the slayings.

If the jurors find Flowers guilty of capital murder, they also will have to decide if he will face the death penalty.

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