District Attorney Doug Evans has voluntarily recused himself from the future prosecution of Curtis Giovanni Flowers, and he has asked the court to appoint the Mississippi Attorney General’s office as lead prosecutor on the case.
“I have personally prosecuted the defendant in all six of his prior trials,” Evans stated in his recusal to the court. “While I remain confident in both the investigation and jury verdicts in this matter, I have come to the conclusion that my continued involvement will prevent the families from obtaining justice and from the defendant being held responsible for his actions. It is for these reasons that I voluntarily recuse my office from further involvement in the prosecution in the above styled matter.”
Flowers has been tried six times for the murders of four people at Tardy Furniture Store on July 16, 1996. Flowers’ 2010 conviction for the 1996 murders of Bertha Tardy, 59; Carmen Rigby, 45; Robert Golden, 42, and Derrick “Bobo” Stewart, 16, was overturned this past June by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 2010 conviction stemmed from Flowers sixth trial for capital murder. The first three convictions were overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court and trials four and five ended in mistrials when the jury could not come to a unanimous verdict on guilt or innocence.
In October 11, 2019, Flowers’ attorneys filed a motion asking the court to barr Evans from trying the case if he did not voluntarily step down.
The defense’s motion stated, “This motion is based on multiple grounds, including the fact that the District Attorney’s misconduct led to each of the four verdicts in this case being reversed.”
Evans said his decision to recuse himself was his way of taking the focus off of him and put back on the four victims in the case.
“They were trying to make everything about me,” Evans said. “Nothing in the case has ever been about me. It was about the victims. It is easier for someone else to come in and present the facts and get a conviction.”
Evans said he has been communicating with the Attorney General’s office to ensure they had someone in place that could take on the case, with a newly-elected Attorney General Lynn Fitch taking office later this week.
“There is a new attorney general going into office, so we will have to wait and see what they plan to do,” Evans said. “[My office] will make sure they have everything that we have [on the case].”
Outgoing Attorney General Jim Hood said whoever is tapped to prosecute the case is up the Fitch, and he vouched for Evans’ integrity as a prosecutor.
“Doug Evans has been an honest lawman and prosecutor for as long as I can remember,” Hood stated. “My personal two-bits is the facts are sufficient for the case to be retried. Appellate courts are made up of humans, just like us all. In extremely rare cases, I have seen them allow emotions to overcome logic in tough cases. I have spent my entire career believing in our criminal justice system. I know juries get it right 99.9 percent of the time. A fair jury should resolve this case one way or another.”
On December 16, Judge Joseph Loper, Jr. granted the Flowers motion for bail, and after 23 years in prison, he was released from custody on a $250,000 bail, with an anonymous donor providing the 10 percent required to secure Flowers release. Loper’s bail order also requires Flowers to be electronically monitored on house arrest, which prevents him from leaving the place where he will be staying with the exceptions of receiving medical treatment, court proceedings, and meetings with his legal team.
Flowers still has active indictments for the murders of Tardy, Rigby, Golden, and Stewart. However, the defense has entered a motion with the court asking for the case to be dismissed.
According to Evans, a date for that hearing has not been set. However, if Loper accepts Evans recusal and appoints the attorney general’s office to handing future prosecution, the attorney general’s office will be arguing the case, not the district attorney’s office.
Flowers attorney Rob McDuff said he is glad Evans voluntarily recused himself.
“"Doug Evans had no business staying on this case and we are pleased he recused himself,” McDuff said in an email. “We look forward to what we hope will be an impartial review of this case by the new Attorney General of Mississippi. As the trial judge indicated when granting bail, the evidence of innocence has become even more clear since the last trial. There is no reason to continue wasting taxpayer money and putting everyone through a seventh trial. Curtis Flowers is innocent. This misguided prosecution has been plagued from the beginning by misconduct and racial discrimination, and it is time to bring it to an end."