State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, said she wrote the bill after watching the quadruple murder trial of Curtis Flowers drag Montgomery County through five trials costing almost $300,000 over more than 12 years.
Senate Bill 2069 would allow a circuit court to expand its pool of potential jurors to the court’s entire district – but only after three trials have ended in mistrials, hung juries, or a mixture thereof. Currently, state law requires jurors to be pulled only from the county where the crime occurred.
Circuit court districts in Mississippi are comprised of more than one county. Montgomery Court is in the Fifth Circuit Court District, which includes Grenada, Carroll, Attala, Webster, Choctaw and Winston counties.
“We’re looking for some remedy,” Chassaniol said. “At the last (Flowers) trial, two jurors were indicted for perjury. Now, does that sound like a tainted jury pool?”
Flowers has been convicted and sentenced to death three times for the 1996 murders of four employees of Tardy Furniture in downtown Winona. All of those convictions, however, were reversed on appeal.
The past two trials have ended in mistrials because of hung juries. In the fifth trial, jurors James Franklin Bibbs and Mary Annette Purnell were arrested, jailed and ultimately indicted on charges of perjury. They are still awaiting trial.