Three years after Brookhaven Police Department Cpl. Zach Moak and Officer James White were killed in a pre-dawn shootout, their homicide suspect nears trial.
Charged with capital murder In the 2018 deaths of Moak, 31, and White, 35, Marquis A. Flowers, 28, appeared before Special Judge Richard “Dickie” McKenzie on Thursday afternoon in circuit court of Lincoln County.
In her last court appearance on September 14, defense attorney Kelsey Rushing filed a motion to sever the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon from the two counts of murder. qualified. Rushing argued that the inclusion of the lesser charge would unfairly bias the jury with information that Flowers had committed at least one prior crime.
“It would deflect the fact of a previous conviction (but) those previous convictions under any other condition would be inadmissible and constitute non-violent crimes – property crimes, auto theft, breaking into cars, theft of cars,” he said at the time. Rushing said.
Assistant District Attorney Brendan Adams argued that there was precedent making the charge admissible because the charges were both simultaneous and intertwined. McKenzie rejected the separation motion.
Four cases were presented to court on Thursday – an update on the psychological assessment of the accused, a follow-up to the change of venue, photos of the victims and a review of the jury’s requests for apologies.
On the first point, District Attorney Dee Bates said the state has yet to receive the expected psychological assessment from the defense, although Rushing informed him that the assessment has been received.
“Your Honor, we are four weeks away and the state has yet to receive the assessment,” Bates said. “We still need to have time to examine it and have it assessed by the state expert. This is a major concern. “
“Your honor, it was emailed to me as I was on my way here today,” Rushing said, assuring the court that he would forward it to Bates at the end of the hearing.
The change of venue was then confirmed as jury selection beginning Nov. 8 in Lafayette County, with the then sequestered jury to be presented to Pike County Circuit Court in Magnolia for trial.
Rushing requested that time be set aside to review and discuss the autopsy photos of White and Moak with reference to the cause or mode of death with Bates and McKenzie.
Bates replied that the photos in question were a “bulky amount”, but the main ones Rushing questioned were six autopsy photos for White, 12 for Moak and two x-rays for Moak.
“We offer to present them at trial and will explain at trial why the photos are appropriate for the case,” Bates said, adding that it is not for the state to reveal its trial plan in advance.
McKenzie said he would reserve his decision at the appropriate time.
The last question of the day was the review of certain affidavits submitted by potential jurors asking to be released from their duties. McKenzie stressed that all parties must come to an agreement if someone were to be fired from the pool – both lead attorneys and the defendant, and asked Flowers to state aloud on each if he had an objection.
A list had been provided to lawyers and the court of those who had requested dismissal on the grounds of age. The state allows an automatic exemption for anyone 65 or older – reduced to 60 due to COVID regulations. Four other summons had been returned to the Lafayette County Circuit Clerk’s office as undeliverable.
No one objected to being excluded from the full roster, and Bates and Rushing agreed that anyone else who met the pre-trial age exemption could also be excused.
Seventeen other potential jurors were discussed one at a time by name and reason. All but two were excused for medical, custodial, residential relocation or planned travel reasons.
Two who made apologies for work purposes were turned down because the details provided would not prevent them from serving on a jury, if selected.
With no other items on the agenda, the court was removed from office and Flowers was returned to Rankin County Jail.
DA Bates has previously said he will pursue the death penalty in this case.