A key witness in the case against Curtis Giovanni Flowers recanted his claim that Flowers confessed to him while the two were inmates at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
Odell “Cookie” Hallmon told reporters from America Public Media that his testimony claiming that Flowers confessed to killing four people at a Winona furniture store in 1996 was “all make believe on my part.”
Broadcast last week on the APM In the Dark podcast, two reporters spoke with Hallmon on a contraband cellphone from his prison cell in Parchman. Hallmon told the reporters that his testimony claiming that Flowers confessed to him was “fantasies, a bunch of lies.”
“As far as him telling me he killed some people, hell naw, he never told me that,” Hallmon said in the recorded interview. “That was a lie. It was all make believe on my part. Just a fantasy, that’s all.”
Hallmon is currently serving three life sentences plus 30 years for the murders of three people and the attempted murder of another in Montgomery County in 2016. According to the Associated Press, American Public Media spokesman Kelly Reller said Hallmon recanted his story to APM reporters multiple times during October 2017 and January 2018.
Hallmon has testified as a prosecution witness in four of the six Flowers trials -- 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2010. Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 of murdering Bertha Tardy, Carmen Rigby, Robert Golden, and Derrick “BoBo” Stewart on July 16, 1996 at Tardy Furniture Store in Winona. The 2010 trial was Flowers’ sixth trial, with the first three trials overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court and the fourth and fifth trials ending with hung juries. The 2010 conviction is currently under appeal.
District Attorney Doug Evans said, “We made sure that the testimony [Hallmon] gave was truthful. It was only after he was put in the penitentiary on three life terms plus 30 years that he tried to change his story.”
Hallmon also stated that he only helped the prosecution because of pending drug charges against him.
“I helped them, they helped me,” Hallmon, who referred to himself as a local drug dealer, stated in the interview. “That’s what is all boiled down to.”
Evans said Hallmon never received anything in exchange for his testimony.
“I’m pretty confident that he had to be transported to the courthouse from the penitentiary every time he testified,” Evans said.
On April 27, 2016, Hallmon shot and killed Kenneth Cornelius Loggins, 32, at his Winona home, and Carolyn Ann Sanders, 59, and Marquita Hill, 32, at Sanders’ Kilmichael home in the early morning hours of April 27. Hallmon then then went to the home of Marcus Brown and shot him five times but Brown survived the ordeal.
Two weeks after the shootings, Hallmon pleaded guilty to the three murders, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
The plea came just hours after a special-called meeting of the recalled Montgomery County Grand Jury, which handed down a five-count indictment that included a sentencing enhancement due to Hallmon’s status as a habitual offender.
Hallmon was sentenced to three life sentences plus 30 years, and because of the habitual offender sentence enhancement, Hallmon will serve the sentence day for day, without eligibility of parole.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.