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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi's new attorney general must decide whether to take a quadruple murder case to a seventh trial. Curtis Flowers has had two mistrials and four reversed convictions in connection with the 1996 slayings of four people at a furniture store.
Flowers was sentenced to death in the sixth trial, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction for racial bias in a case that has received national attention.
State Circuit Court Judge Joseph Loper turned the case over to the attorney general's office on Wednesday, news agencies reported.
“The Court recognizes that it will take some time for the Attorney General to review the case,” the Daily Journal quoted from the order. “Accordingly, no deadlines will be set at this time."
Attorney General Lynn Fitch took office Jan. 9, three days after District Attorney Doug Evans stepped aside from the case. In Loper's order, he said he wrote to Fitch on Jan. 15 asking if she would take over the case, and she accepted.
Fitch and her legal team will review all documents and evidence before deciding what to do, spokesman Ray Coleman told the newspaper.
Defense attorney Rob McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice said in a statement that he is pleased there will be an independent review. He added that he looks forward to providing information he and his team uncovered.
“This includes evidence of innocence that has emerged since the last trial,” McDuff said.
He quoted the judge who set Flowers free on $250,000 bail in December as saying Mississippi "is faced with the prospect of having to present a far weaker case to the jury than it’s had in the past.’”
Flowers was arrested several months after four people were found shot to death in the Tardy Furniture Store in Winona, Mississippi, in July 1996. Prosecutors said he wanted revenge against owner Bertha Tardy, 59, who had fired him and withheld most of his pay to cover the cost of merchandise he had damaged. Three employees also were killed.
A jailhouse informant who claimed Flowers had confessed to him recanted in recorded telephone conversations with American Public Media’s “In the Dark” podcast.
A previous version of this story misspelled Flowers' attorney's first name as Rod. It is Rob.
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