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Flowers v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

November 2, 2017

CURTIS GIOVANNI FLOWERS a/k/a CURTIS FLOWERS a/k/a CURTIS G. FLOWERS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/19/2010

         MONTGOMERY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER, JR. JUDGE

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: ALISON R. STEINER ANDRE de GRUY RAY CHARLES CARTER DOUG EVANS CLYDE HILL.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ALISON R. STEINER SHERI LYNN JOHNSON KEIR M. WEYBLE.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: BRAD A. SMITH JASON L. DAVIS.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DOUG EVANS.

          COLEMAN, JUSTICE.

         ¶1. Curtis Giovanni Flowers was indicted on four counts of capital murder with the underlying felony of armed robbery, stemming from the 1996 murders of four employees of Tardy Furniture Store in Winona, Mississippi. Following his sixth trial, he was convicted on all four counts of capital murder and sentenced to death. The Court affirmed his convictions and death sentence in Flowers v. State, 158 So.3d 1009 (Miss. 2014) (Flowers VI). Flowers filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the United States Supreme Court. In Flowers v. Mississippi, 136 S.Ct. 2157 (2016), the Supreme Court granted Flowers's petition for a writ of certiorari, vacated the Court's judgment in Flowers VI, and remanded the case to the Court for further consideration in light of Foster v. Chatman, 136 S.Ct. 1737 (2016).

         ¶2. The Supreme Court decided Foster after Flowers VI had been decided by the Court.[1] Because the sole issue raised in Foster was whether the prosecution's use of peremptory strikes was racially motivated in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), the Supreme Court's order pertains to only one issue raised by Flowers in his latest appeal to the Court-the Batson issue. Accordingly, the remaining issues addressed by the Court in Flowers VI were not disturbed and the Court's opinion as to the remaining issues is reinstated as fully set out herein.

         ¶3. On remand, the Court afforded the parties an opportunity to submit supplemental briefs in light of Foster as directed by the Supreme Court. After review and further consideration in light of Foster, we discern no Batson violation and reinstate and affirm Flowers's convictions and death sentence.

         Factual Background and Procedural History

         ¶4. At approximately 9:00 on the morning of July 16, 1996, Bertha Tardy, the owner of Tardy Furniture Store, called Sam Jones and asked him to come to the store to train two new employees. When Jones arrived at the store a short time later, he discovered the bodies of Bertha Tardy, Robert Golden, Carmen Rigby, and Derrick Stewart. All four victims had been shot in the head; Stewart was the only victim still alive when Jones arrived. Jones went to a nearby business and asked an employee to call the police. Johnny Hargrove, the City of Winona Police Chief, was the first law enforcement officer to arrive; he called for backup and ambulance services. Shell casings from 0.380 caliber bullets were recovered from the scene, and a bloody shoeprint was found near one of the victims.

         ¶5. Shortly after officers arrived at the scene, law enforcement officers received a call about an auto burglary at Angelica Garment Factory in Winona. Deputy Sheriff Bill Thornburg responded, and he learned that someone had burglarized Doyle Simpson's car and had stolen a 0.380 caliber pistol. Katherine Snow, an Angelica employee, placed Curtis Flowers at Simpson's car around 7:15 that morning.

         ¶6. Police interviewed Flowers around 1:30 that afternoon, and Flowers consented to a gunshot residue test. Police interviewed Flowers again two days later on July 18, 1996. Flowers claimed to have been babysitting his girlfriend's children on the morning of the murders, but he provided inconsistent statements about his schedule. During the July 16 interview, Flowers said that he woke up around 6:30 a.m. on the day of the murders and went to his sister's house around 9:00 a.m., then went to a local store around 10:00 a.m. On July 18, Flowers said that, on the morning of the murders, he woke up around 9:30 a.m., went to his sister's house around noon, and went to the store at approximately 12:45 p.m. Flowers told investigators that he had been employed at Tardy Furniture for a few days earlier that month, but he had been fired on July 6 after he did not show up for a few days. Flowers moved to Texas in September 1996. After further investigation, Flowers was arrested and brought back to Mississippi. He was indicted on four separate counts of capital murder in March 1997.

         ¶7. Flowers was tried for the murder of Bertha Tardy in October 1997. After a change of venue from Montgomery County to Lee County, Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death. Flowers appealed and we reversed and remanded for a new trial on the ground that Flowers's right to a fair trial had been violated by admission of evidence of the other three murder victims. Flowers v. State, 773 So.2d 309 (Miss. 2000) ("Flowers I"). Flowers's second trial was for the murder of Derrick Stewart; it was held in Harrison County in March 1999. The jury returned a guilty verdict and sentenced Flowers to death. On appeal, we again reversed and remanded for a new trial. The Court held that Flowers's right to a fair trial had been violated, again, by admission of evidence of the other victims and by the prosecution arguing facts that were not in evidence. Flowers v. State, 842 So.2d 531 (Miss. 2003) ("Flowers II").

         ¶8. The Montgomery County Circuit Court held Flowers's third trial in 2004 and tried him for all four murders. The jury found Flowers guilty and sentenced him to death. Finding that the State had engaged in racial discrimination during jury selection, the Court once again reversed and remanded the case for a new trial. Flowers v. State, 947 So.2d 910 (Miss. 2007) ("Flowers III"). Flowers's fourth and fifth trials also were on all four counts of capital murder. Both resulted in mistrials when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict during the culpability phase. The State did not seek the death penalty in the fourth trial but did seek it in the fifth trial.

         ¶9. The circuit court conducted Flowers's sixth trial, the subject of the instant appeal, in June 2010 in Montgomery County. The State tried Flowers for all four murders. The State called twenty-one witnesses in its case-in-chief. Police Chief Johnny Hargrove was the State's first witness. Hargrove testified that police had found a bloody shoeprint at the scene. Hargrove had asked the District Attorney's Office and the Highway Patrol to help investigate the murders. Mississippi Highway Patrol Investigator Jack Matthews testified that he saw a bloody shoeprint and shell casings scattered near the bodies. Matthews testified that cash was taken from the store during the murders and that he found Flowers's time sheet and a check made out to him for $82.58 on Bertha Tardy's desk. Matthews said that, according to the documents on Bertha Tardy's desk, the store would have had $300 cash on hand that morning. However, there was only change, no bills, in the cash drawer. During his investigation, Matthews spoke with Roxanne Ballard, Bertha Tardy's daughter, and learned that Flowers recently had been fired from his job at Tardy Furniture. Matthews testified that $235 was found hidden in Flowers's headboard after the murders. He also testified that Flowers wore a size ten-and-a-half shoe.

         ¶10. Ballard was the bookkeeper at Tardy Furniture and had worked in the store her whole life. Looking at the books from the morning of the murders, Ballard testified that the store had $400 in the cash drawer that morning. However, she confirmed Matthews's testimony that the books showed $300, but Ballard saw a receipt for a late charge in the amount of $100, so she knew the drawer had contained a total of $400. Ballard testified that $389 was missing from the cash drawer after the murders. Also, looking at pictures from the crime scene, Ballard testified that the photos showed a bank bag lying wide open on a pile of fabric swatches. She testified that the bank bag was always closed and it should have been in a drawer or on Carmen Rigby's desk.

         ¶11. Melissa Schoene, a crime scene expert with the Mississippi Crime Laboratory, testified that she took impressions of the bloody shoeprint and collected the 0.380 caliber casings. Sheriff Bill Thornburg testified that he had gone to Angelica Garment Factory on the day of the murders to investigate Doyle Simpson's stolen 0.380 caliber pistol. Thornburg testified that it looked like a screwdriver or tire iron had been used to pry open the glove box of Simpson's car. Thornburg also went to Simpson's mother's home to collect spent 0.380 hulls from Simpson's gun. A few days after the murders, Thornburg searched the home of Connie Moore, Flowers's girlfriend. He found a size ten-and-a-half Fila Grant Hill shoebox in a dresser at Moore's house.

         ¶12. David Balash, a firearms identification expert, testified that the bullets collected from Tardy Furniture either matched the bullets or were consistent with the bullets collected from Simpson's mother's house. Joe Andrews, a forensic scientist specializing in trace evidence, testified that Flowers's gunshot residue test revealed one particle of gunshot residue on the back of Flowers's right hand. Andrews also analyzed the shoeprint found at Tardy Furniture, and he determined that the print was consistent with size ten-and-a-half Fila Grant Hill tennis shoes. Patricia Hallmon Odom Sullivan, one of Flowers's neighbors, testified that she saw Flowers wearing Fila Grant Hill tennis shoes at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the murders. Elaine Goldstein, another neighbor, testified that she had seen Flowers wear Fila Grant Hill tennis shoes a couple of months before the murders.

         ¶13. Multiple witnesses placed Flowers at or around Angelica Garment Factory and Tardy Furniture on the morning of the murders. Katherine Snow, an Angelica Garment Factory employee, testified that she saw Flowers leaning against Simpson's car at 7:15 on the morning of the murders. Snow also identified Flowers in a photographic lineup and in court. James Kennedy testified that he saw Flowers walking toward Angelica Garment Factory at 7:15 a.m. Edward McChristian testified that he saw Flowers walking north, away from Angelica Garment Factory, between 7:30 and 8:00 a.m. Mary Jeanette Fleming testified that she saw Flowers walking toward Tardy Furniture at approximately 9:00 a.m. Beneva Henry testified that she saw Flowers walking toward downtown Winona, in the direction of Tardy Furniture, sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m.[2] Clemmie Fleming testified that she was going to Tardy Furniture to pay a bill a little after 10:00 a.m, and she saw Flowers running away from the back of Tardy Furniture.

         ¶14. Porky Collins testified that he saw two African-American men, who appeared to be arguing, outside Tardy Furniture at around 10:00 on the morning of the murders. Collins circled the block and returned to where he saw the men arguing; at that point, the men were headed toward Tardy Furniture. Collins identified Flowers as one of the men he saw that morning. Doyle Simpson testified that his 0.380 caliber pistol was in his car's glove compartment when he arrived at Angelica the morning of July 16, 1996. Simpson discovered that his gun was missing at approximately 11:00 a.m. that day. Simpson, who was Flowers's uncle, testified that Flowers knew he had a gun and that Flowers had seen it in his car before. Odell Hallmon, a jailhouse informant who had been in a cell next to Flowers, testified that Flowers had confessed to killing four people at Tardy Furniture.

         ¶15. After the State's case-in-chief, the defense moved for a directed verdict, which the trial court denied. The first witness to testify in the defense's case-in-chief was Mike McSparrin, a fingerprint expert. McSparrin testified that the fingerprints found at the crime scene, as well as on the Fila shoebox, did not match Flowers's fingerprints. The defense also called Steve Byrd, a firearms forensic analyst. Byrd testified that he could not definitively determine whether all of the bullets recovered from the crime scene were fired from the same gun. James Williams, a law enforcement investigator, testified that he did not see a bloody footprint when he first arrived at Tardy Furniture. Billy Glover testified that, on the day of the murders, he saw Flowers around 9:00 a.m. at a friend's house and that they talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. Connie Moore, Flowers's girlfriend at the time, testified that she had purchased a pair of size ten-and-a-half Fila Grant Hill tennis shoes for her son.

         ¶16. Stacey Wright testified that Clemmie Flemming had admitted to her that she had lied about seeing Flowers running away from Tardy Furniture on the morning of the murders. Wright testified that Clemmie had said she would get money or have her bill paid at Tardy Furniture in return for her statement against Flowers. Clemmie's sister, Mary Flemming, testified that she was with Clemmie the morning of the murders and that Clemmie did not go to Tardy Furniture to pay her bill that morning. Latarsha Blissett also testified that Clemmie had told her that if she made a statement against Flowers, she would get money or have her account at Tardy Furniture paid. Further, Blissett testified that investigators had asked her if she knew Flowers's shoe size and had implied that she would receive reward money for providing a statement. Kittery Jones, Flowers's cousin, also testified that investigators had implied that he would receive reward money in return for providing a statement linking Flowers to the murders.

         ¶17. On June 18, 2010, the jury returned a guilty verdict for all four murders. Following the sentencing hearing, the jury sentenced Flowers to death. The jury found the following aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) the defendant knowingly created a great risk of death to many persons; (2) the capital offenses were committed while the defendant was engaged in the commission of an armed robbery for pecuniary gain; and (3) the capital offenses were committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing lawful arrest or effecting an escape from custody. Flowers filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, for a new trial, which was denied. Flowers timely filed a notice of appeal.

         Issues

         ¶18. Flowers raises the following thirteen assignments of error on appeal:

1. The evidence presented at Flowers's trial was constitutionally insufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as mandated by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Section Fourteen of the Mississippi Constitution.
2. Flowers's right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by Mississippi law and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, was violated when the prosecution repeatedly argued material facts not in evidence during its culpability phase closing argument.
3. The in-court and out-of-court eyewitness identifications of Flowers by Porky Collins were constitutionally unreliable and the trial court erred in overruling Flowers's objections to their admission.
4. The trial court's exclusion of expert testimony explaining the deficiencies in law enforcement's investigation, and the defects in the composition of the photo lineups shown to Porky Collins, violated Mississippi law and Flowers's right to present a defense as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
5. The trial court erred in refusing to exclude prosecution testimony that a single particle of gunshot residue had been detected on Flowers's hand.
6. The jury selection process, the composition of the venire and the jury seated, and pervasive racial and other bias surrounding this matter violated Flowers's fundamental constitutional rights protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments.
a. The prosecutor violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when he struck five African American jurors after utilizing disparate questioning and citing pretextual reasons.
b. The jury failed to adequately deliberate because it was influenced by racial bias in violation of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
c. Pervasive racial bias in the venire infected the fairness of the proceedings, and requires reversal and remand for a new trial.
7. The State's six attempts to convict Flowers of the same offense violated the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
8. The trial court reversibly erred in refusing Flowers's requested circumstantial evidence instructions at the culpability phase.
9. The trial court reversibly erred in the penalty phase instructions to the jury.
10. The convictions and death sentences in this matter were obtained in violation of the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and the counterparts in the Mississippi Constitution.
11. This Court should set aside its prior order denying Flowers's Motion for Remand and Leave to File Supplemental Motion for New Trial.
12. The death sentence in this matter is constitutionally and statutorily disproportionate.
13. The cumulative effect of the errors mandates reversal of the verdict of guilt and/or the sentence of death entered pursuant to it.

         We address each of Flowers's issues but have summarized and reorganized several issues for the purpose of discussion.

         Discussion

         ¶19. Heightened scrutiny is applied to review of capital murder convictions where the death sentence has been imposed. Fulgham v. State, 46 So.3d 315, 322 (¶ 16) (Miss. 2010) (citing Bishop v. State, 812 So.2d 934, 938 (¶ 7) (Miss. 2002)). "What may be harmless error in a case with less at stake [may become] reversible error when the penalty is death." Id. The standard of review for each issue will discussed throughout.

         I. Whether the in-court and out-of-court identifications of Flowers by Porky Collins were constitutionally unreliable, and whether the trial court erred in overruling Flowers's objections to their admission.

         ¶20. Flowers claims that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Porky Collins's out-of-court and in-court identifications of Flowers. Collins died in 2002, so his testimony from the 1999 trial was read to the jury. Collins's testimony was that, on the morning of the murders, he had seen two African-American men who appeared to be arguing outside Tardy Furniture. Collins thought the men were about to fight, so he circled the block and returned to see what was going on. The second time Collins saw the men, they were walking toward Tardy Furniture. Collins saw only one man's face when he drove past them.

         ¶21. After hearing about the murders at Tardy Furniture, Collins went to police the same day, reported what he had seen that morning, and gave a description of the men. On August 24, 1996, police showed Collins two photo arrays with six photos each - the first group included Doyle Simpson's photograph; the second group included Flowers's photograph. Collins testified that he was not expected to identify the man whose face he did not see. According to police department notes, in response to the first photo array, Collins pointed to Simpson and said that he "looked like" the man he had seen, but he was unable to be positive. The entirety of the officer's handwritten notes were as follows:

Porky Collins
Picture Line-up 11:10 a.m.
#1 and #3 resembles, but hairline was further back
#6 Pointed to Simpson said hairline like this, may have appeared a little darker.
"But it looks like him."
"Face was also same shape, round like this."
"Unable to be positive."

         Collins then was shown the second photo array, and he identified Flowers as the man he had seen in front of Tardy Furniture. The officer administering the photo array made the following notes:

2nd Line Up
11:16 a.m.
Pointed to Curtis Flowers #4
"I think that's him."
"He was about my height."
"I'm 5'10""
"The complexion is also right."
"I believe that's him, it look[s] like him."
Identified #4
I asked Porky if he knew Curtis Flowers, he said, "No. But I know the person I just identified is the person I saw in front of Tardy's 7-16-96."

         During the 1999 trial, Collins identified Flowers in court as the man whose face he had seen outside Tardy Furniture. Flowers filed a pretrial motion to suppress Collins's out-of-court and in-court identifications, which the trial court denied. On appeal, Flowers claims that the trial court erred in admitting Collins's identifications into evidence.

         ¶22. The standard of review for a trial court's suppression hearing findings regarding pretrial identifications is whether "substantial credible evidence supports the trial court's findings that, considering the totality of the circumstances, in-court identification testimony was not impermissibly tainted." Butler v. State, 102 So.3d 260, 264 (¶ 8) (Miss. 2012) (quoting Gray v. State, 728 So.2d 36, 68 (¶ 159) (Miss. 1998)). For an out-of-court or in-court identification to be excluded, "it must be the result of an impermissibly suggestive lineup and the identification must be unreliable." Butler, 102 So.3d at 264 (¶ 8) (citing York v. State, 413 So.2d 1372, 1383 (Miss. 1982)). First, the court must "determine whether the identification process was unduly suggestive." Latiker v. State, 918 So.2d 68, 74 (¶15) (Miss. 2005) (citing Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188, 198 (1972)). Second, even if the identification process was unduly suggestive, the identification still can be admitted if "the out-of-court identification was nevertheless so reliable that no substantial likelihood of misidentification existed." Id.

         A. Collins's Out-of-Court Identification

         ¶23. Flowers claims that the out-of-court photo lineup was unduly suggestive because the photo array was skewed toward Flowers in several ways. He claims that his head was larger than the others and that the other men had lighter complexions, were younger than him, and had varying hairstyles and facial features. We have summarized the standard applied to out-of-court identifications as follows:

A lineup or series of photographs is impermissibly suggestive if "the accused, when compared with the others, is conspicuously singled out in some manner from the others, either from appearance or statements by an officer." . . . To be excluded, an out-of-court identification must have resulted from an identification procedure that was so impermissibly suggestive as to give rise to "a very substantial likelihood of misidentification." . . . Where the defendant is "the only one depicted with a distinctive feature, " courts usually will find the lineup to be impermissibly suggestive. . . . On the other hand, "minor differences" with the suspects or differences in the photograph backgrounds will not render a lineup impermissibly suggestive. . . .

Butler, 102 So.3d at 264-65 (¶¶ 9-11) (citations omitted). Applying the standard articulated in Butler, we recently held that a photo lineup was not impermissibly suggestive even though the defendant was the only person in the lineup with facial tattoos. Stewart v. State, 131 So.3d 569, 574 (¶ 16) (Miss. 2014). In Stewart, we concluded:

We find that the case sub judice is similar to the cases of White, Foster, and Jones, in which this Court upheld similar identifications. In White, the witness noticed the defendant's plaited hair and forehead tattoo during the commission of the crime. White v. State, 507 So.2d 98, 99 (Miss. 1987). This Court upheld the out-of-court and in-court identifications of the defendant even though the defendant was the only suspect in the lineup with plaited hair. Id. at 99-101. The defendant also had a forehead tattoo, which the witness identified at trial. BI at 99-100. In Foster, this Court upheld the out-of-court and in-court identifications of the defendant even though he was the only person in the lineup wearing a fishing hat, where the defendant had worn a fishing hat during the robbery. Foster v. State, 493 So.2d 1304, 1305-06 (Miss. 1986). Likewise, in Jones, this Court upheld the out-of-court and in-court identifications of the defendant even though he was the only suspect in the photo lineup wearing a hat similar to the one worn by the attacker. Jones v. State, 504 So.2d 1196, 1199-1200 (Miss. 1987). This Court found that, even though the hat may have played a significant part in the identification, it was not impermissibly suggestive, because the witness had given an accurate description and identified the defendant with great conviction at trial. Id. at 1200.

Id. at 573 (¶ 12).

         ¶24. In the photo array that included Flowers's photograph, Flowers's head is slightly larger than the others, as it appears his photo was taken from a closer angle than the others. However, the use of a different photographic technique creates only a minor difference, and that is not enough to render the photo lineup impermissibly suggestive. Batiste v. State, 121 So.3d 808, 856 (¶ 116) (Miss. 2013). The other characteristics Flowers claims caused the array to be suggestive are not present - three other men have complexions similar to Flowers's complexion; Flowers appears to be the same age or only slightly older than the other men; two of the other men have hair styles similar to Flowers's; and three of the other men have facial hair similar to his. Accordingly, Flowers fails to show that the lineup was unduly suggestive. Further, Collins provided a description to police on the day of the murders, and he was confident in his identification of the man he saw in front of Tardy Furniture. The trial court did not err in admitting Collins's out-of-court identification. Because the lineup was not impermissibly suggestive, we need not consider the Biggers factors for reliability.

         B. Collins's In-Court Identification

         ¶25. Although Flowers's issue statement asserts that Collins's in-court identification was "constitutionally unreliable, " he provides no substantive argument or support for that claim. The extent of his argument is a footnote, which provides: "there is no issue of the admissibility of the in-court identification, given that Collins could not positively identify Flowers in the courtroom at the second trial, and was deceased by the time of this, the sixth trial." His assertion is incorrect. Collins unequivocally identified Flowers at the second trial. Flowers also implies that the typical jury consideration of determining Collins's credibility is not applicable in the case sub judice because his testimony was read to the jury, as opposed to live testimony. Although the jury did not personally observe Collins testifying, defense counsel's cross-examination of Collins adequately addressed credibility. For example, defense counsel asked Collins about his memory, any medication he was taking that could affect his memory, and whether he wore glasses. The characteristics of trial itself - trial by jury, an impartial judge, representation by counsel, and witnesses subject to an oath and cross-examination - adequately protect against any suggestiveness of in-court identifications at trial. Galloway v. State, 122 So.3d 614, 663 (¶ 164) (Miss. 2013).

         ¶26. Although Flowers does not claim that Collins's in-court identification was tainted by the alleged suggestiveness of the out-of-court identification, that is the argument often made by defendants. See Butler, 102 So.3d at 266-67. We have held that "an impermissibly suggestive pretrial identification does not preclude in-court identification by an eyewitness who viewed the suspect at the procedure, unless: (1) from the totality of the circumstances surrounding it, (2) the identification was so impermissibly suggestive as to give rise to a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification." Id. at 267 (¶ 17) (quoting York, 413 So.2d at 1383). Collins's out-of-court identification was not impermissibly suggestive; therefore, it could not give rise to the likelihood of an irreparable misidentification. For the reasons given above, the issue is without merit.

         II. Whether the trial court's exclusion of expert testimony violated Mississippi law and Flowers's right to present a defense as guaranteed by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

         ¶27. Flowers contends that the trial court erred by excluding the testimony of two experts - Robert Johnson and Dr. Jeffrey Neuschatz. Flowers tendered Johnson as an expert in criminal investigation procedures, but the trial court did not permit Johnson to testify. In Flowers's fourth trial, he filed a motion to determine the admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence. Flowers renewed the motion in the present case, and the trial court denied the motion.

         ¶28. We apply an abuse of discretion standard when reviewing the exclusion of expert testimony. Gillett v. State, 56 So.3d 469, 494 (¶ 61) (Miss. 2010). Analysis of the admissibility of expert testimony begins with Mississippi Rule of Evidence 702:

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise, if (1) the testimony is based upon sufficient facts or data, (2) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods, and (3) the witness has applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.

Miss. R. Evid. 702. The expert testimony must be both relevant and reliable to be admissible. Gillett, 56 So.3d at 495 (¶ 63). "Expert testimony is relevant if it will 'assist the trier of fact in understanding or determining a fact at issue.'" Galloway, 122 So.3d at 632 (¶ 27) (quoting Ross v. State, 954 So.2d 968, 996 (¶ 57) (Miss. 2007)). To determine reliability, the following nonexhaustive list of factors may be considered: whether the expert's theory can be or has been tested; whether the theory has been the subject of peer review and publication; the known or potential rate of error of the technique or theory when applied; the existence of standards to control the technique's operation; and the general acceptance the theory has garnered in the relevant expert community. Gillett, 56 So.3d at 495 (¶ 64) (citing Miss. Transp. Comm'n v. McLemore, 863 So.2d 31, 37 (Miss. 2003); Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 592-94 (1993)). "The applicability of these factors varies depending on the nature of the issue, the expert's particular expertise, and the subject of the testimony." Gillett, 56 So.3d at 495 (¶ 64) (citing McLemore, 863 So.2d at 37).

         A. Robert Johnson

         ¶29. Flowers attempted to call Robert Johnson as an expert in criminal investigation procedures, and the State objected. Johnson would have testified that the criminal investigation was flawed in various ways. After a lengthy voir dire, the trial court held that Johnson could not testify because "there is no valid way of testing the field of police investigatory techniques." The trial court also found that, even if Johnson's testimony met the reliability prong of Daubert, the testimony was cumulative because the law enforcement officers who already had testified at trial were throughly cross-examined and had admitted that there were flaws in the investigation. Flowers also attempted to have Johnson give an expert opinion relating to the photographic array shown to Collins. The trial court excluded the testimony because Johnson stated during his voir dire that he did not have sufficient information about the lineup.

         1. Johnson's Proffered Testimony

         ¶30. During the voir dire, Johnson testified at length about his law enforcement experience. Johnson is currently a law enforcement consultant and previously served as police chief in Jackson, Mississippi; Jackson, Michigan; and Lansing, Michigan. He was Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections from 2000 to 2002. Johnson has a master's degree in public administration, and he graduated from the FBI National Academy and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development program. During his career, Johnson performed homicide investigations as a detective and directly supervised homicide investigations. Johnson also developed protocols for criminal investigations.

         ¶31. Johnson testified that generally accepted standards for homicide investigations exist, and he opined that the investigation in today's case failed to meet them in various ways. First, Johnson said the investigation lacked management and organization. In support of his contention, Johnson referred to the testimony of law enforcement officers who said the investigation was a "shared responsibility." Johnson also said the investigation lacked an in-depth case file, which should have included all original notes and reports. Johnson testified: "There has to be somebody who is the recipient of all the information coming from a variety of sources and is able to correlate that information and further direct the direction that the investigation needs to develop." He said that the investigation also lacked written reports of events.

         ¶32. Johnson next criticized the crime scene integrity. Johnson said that the integrity of the crime scene could have been compromised by law enforcement officers and investigators meeting within the crime scene to discuss and organize the investigation. According to Johnson, a crime scene log should have been maintained listing who came and went from the crime scene to ensure that it was not contaminated. Next, Johnson testified that he was "concerned" about the investigation's early focus on one suspect - Flowers - to the exclusion of any other suspects. Johnson said early focus can result in lost evidence: "It's okay to very quickly focus on one suspect; that happens all the time, you know. But to the exclusion of all else and all others is where it becomes problematic, and you sometimes lose vital evidence that may be had because you haven't included and kept them in as a potential suspect or person of interest."

         ¶33. On cross-examination, Johnson admitted that Mississippi has no minimum standards for criminal investigations. He also admitted that the Justice Department guidelines he mentioned in direct examination were not requirements and that there are no national minimum standards for criminal investigations. Johnson stated that, rather than minimum standards, he based his opinions on generally accepted practices in police work. Further, when asked if he could provide an opinion on whether investigations that lack written reports lead to incorrect results, Johnson said investigations with written reports are "more complete." He did not, however, state that an investigation without a written report would lead to an incorrect result.

         2. Admissibility of Johnson's Testimony

         ¶34. The Daubert factors apply to expert testimony relating to police investigatory techniques. See Ross v. State, 954 So.2d 968, 996-97 (Miss. 2007) ("Ross I"). In Ross I, the defendant proffered an expert who opined that the securing of the crime scene and evidence collection were deficient. Id. at 997 (¶ 61). Although the Court held the testimony did not meet the reliability standards of Daubert and McLemore, the opinion did not discuss why the testimony was unreliable. Id. The judgment was reversed and the case remanded for other reasons. Id. at 1019-20 (¶¶ 138-41). The defendant was convicted again and appealed, and the case was assigned to the Court of Appeals. Ross v. State, 22 So.3d 400 (Miss. Ct. App. 2009) ("Ross II"). In Ross II, the Court of Appeals addressed the proffered expert testimony and found that the trial court did not err in excluding the testimony. Id. at 420-21 (¶¶ 99-104). First, the expert testimony was cumulative because the investigating officers had been cross-examined about their investigative techniques and had admitted that "things could have been handled better." Id. at 421 (¶ 102). Second, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by finding that the testimony failed to meet the Daubert reliability prong because the expert's "memberships and associations were voluntary and fee based, not peer reviewed or tested" and "the trial court was unable to evaluate the value of [the expert's] certifications because the trial court was unaware of the requirements for certification." Id. at 421 (¶¶ 103-104).

         ¶35. Under Rule 702, the first prong of the inquiry for determining whether expert testimony should be admitted is whether the witness is "qualified by virtue of his or her knowledge, skill, experience[, ] or education." Galloway, 122 So.3d at 632 (¶ 28) (quoting McLemore, 863 So.2d at 35). Johnson certainly is qualified through his knowledge, experience, and training in the field of criminal investigations. Further, there is no question that Johnson's testimony is relevant. Johnson's testimony addressed facts relating to the criminal investigation that eventually led to Flowers's arrest; thus, his testimony had a "tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence." Miss. R. Evid. 401.

         ¶36. The critical inquiry, however, is whether Johnson's testimony is reliable. The trial court focused on the inability to test Johnson's theories as a basis for excluding the testimony, holding: "Because there is no valid way of testing the field of police investigatory techniques, this Court finds the proposed testimony in the field fails to meet the reliability standards required under Rule 702." Whether the expert's theory can be tested is one factor to be considered under Daubert, but it is not conclusive. Johnson's proffered testimony is not the typical expert testimony contemplated by the testing factor - for example, one cannot test what effect the lack of organization and leadership would have on a murder investigation. As such, reliance on the testing factor alone would have been error. However, the trial court cited other reasons for excluding the testimony.

         ¶37. The trial court also found that, although Johnson testified that the investigation fell below generally accepted standards and practices in law enforcement, Johnson did not sufficiently articulate the standards. See McGee v. River Region Med. Ctr., 59 So.3d 575, 579 (¶ 13) (Miss. 2011) (An expert testifying about a failure to meet generally accepted standards must "identify and articulate the requisite standard that was not complied with.") A review of the proffered testimony reveals that Johnson did articulate standards relating to some - but not all - of his opinions. Johnson offered four opinions: (1) that the investigation lacked organization and management; (2) that the integrity of the crime scene was compromised; (3) that the investigation focused on one suspect too quickly; and (4) that the photo lineup used during Collins's identification was flawed. Johnson did not articulate a standard for his opinion relating to the investigation's early focus on Flowers as a suspect. And Johnson said that he was not familiar with the procedures used during Collins's identification. Thus, the trial court did not err in excluding his testimony. See Dedaux Util. Co., Inc. v. City of Gulfport, 938 So.2d 838, 841 (Miss. 2006) (expert testimony must be based on sufficient facts and data).

         ¶38. Johnson did provide applicable standards for his opinions related to the investigation's organization and management and crime scene integrity. Regarding the investigation's organization and management, Johnson testified that, based on his experience and knowledge, the investigation should have had centralized leadership that collected information, maintained the case file, and directed the investigation. Johnson said, "There has to be somebody who is the recipient of all the information coming from a variety of sources and is able to correlate that information and further direct the direction that the investigation needs to develop." Regarding crime scene integrity, Johnson said a crime scene log should have been maintained at the crime scene. He explained that the crime scene can be contaminated, evidence can be overlooked, and evidence can be deposited after the crime. He said, "There may be a number of issues related to the presence of people at the crime scene, so you want to have a record of when they were there, how long they stayed and when they left."

         ¶39. Although Johnson provided some standards on which he based his opinions, we cannot say the trial judge abused his discretion when he held the standards insufficient. Johnson testified that the standards he applied in forming his theories were "generally accepted practices in police work." Certainly, expert testimony can be based on experience, and one factor that may be considered in determining reliability is general acceptance in the relevant expert community. See Gillett, 56 So.3d at 495 (¶ 64); Daubert, 509 U.S. at 593-94. But Johnson did not provide support for his statement that the practices he referenced were, in fact, generally accepted. Allowing an expert simply to state that his opinions are based on "generally accepted practices, " without support for the assertion, could lead to essentially permitting experts to qualify themselves. While Johnson's opinions and standards seem sensible, we cannot say that he presented enough evidence that his opinions were sufficiently reliable such that the trial court abused its discretion by not allowing the testimony.

         ¶40. Further, the trial court was correct that Johnson's testimony was cumulative. Law enforcement officers who participated in the investigation were thoroughly questioned about the investigation and admitted that there were flaws in the investigation. Specifically, officers admitted that a crime scene log was not maintained, and the police chief testified that one should have been maintained. The officers also admitted that there was not a lead investigator, and the police chief testified that responsibilities should have been assigned, an investigative plan should have been developed, and information should have been shared with investigators and first responders. The trial court did not commit an abuse of discretion in not allowing Johnson's testimony.

         B. Dr. Jeffery Neuschatz

         ¶41. During Flowers's fourth trial, he filed a motion to determine the admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony on the reliability of eyewitness identification evidence. Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit and curriculum vitae were attached to the motion. Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit essentially provided two opinions: (1) that Collins's identification of Flowers could have been affected by a number of different circumstances; and (2) that the identification procedure was flawed. Before the fourth trial commenced, the State announced that it would not seek the death penalty, and Flowers withdrew his motion regarding Dr. Neuschatz's testimony.[3]

         ¶42. At Flowers's fifth trial, the State sought the death penalty, and Flowers renewed his motion to determine the admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony. The court held a hearing on the motion, but Flowers did not provide a proffer of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony other than the affidavit previously submitted. The trial court denied the motion, holding that, because Collins was extensively cross-examined, the expert testimony would not assist the jury:

And he was extensively cross-examined, even into the most minute detail about issues concerning what path he took driving around town that morning. He stated in his testimony that he had a brief glimpse of who he believed to be Mr. Flowers.
There was - he was cross-examined about his ability to remember things. He was cross-examined about whether he had had difficulty with memory problems in the past. I mean I do not think there could be a more thorough cross-examination of a witness than was done with Mr. Collins.
So I think given the extensive cross-examination of Mr. Collins and because all other witnesses knew Mr. Flowers on sight, I do not believe an expert on witness identification would assist the jury in the least bit in this case.

         The court also found that Flowers did not demonstrate that Dr. Neuschatz's testimony was reliable based on the Daubert factors. In the present case, Flowers renewed his motion on the admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony. The trial court denied the motion, adopting its ruling from the fifth trial.

         ¶43. Again, in determining whether expert testimony is reliable, the court may consider the following factors: whether the expert's theory can be or has been tested; whether the theory has been the subject of peer review and publication; the known or potential rate of error of the technique or theory when applied; the existence of standards to control the technique's operation; and the general acceptance that the theory has garnered in the relevant expert community. Gillett, 56 So.3d at 495 (¶ 64) (citing McLemore, 863 So.2d at 37, and Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592-94). The admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony was addressed recently in Corrothers v. State, 148 So.3d 278 (Miss. 2014), reh'g denied (Oct. 23, 2014). In Corrothers, the Court applied Rule 702 and Daubert to Dr. Neuschatz's testimony concerning the reliability of eyewitness identification procedures and found that Dr. Neuschatz's testimony was unreliable:

Dr. Neuschatz attempted to apply the principles and methodologies underlying his expertise in eyewitness identification to opine that [the eyewitness's] identification "could" be unreliable. But Dr. Neuschatz's opinions were undermined by his inaccurate and incomplete understanding of the facts on which he based his opinions and his complete lack of expertise on [the eyewitness's] brain injury. These deficiencies rendered his opinions so fundamentally unsupported that they could offer no assistance to the jury and amounted to nothing more than unsupported speculation. His testimony was unreliable, and there was no abuse of discretion in excluding it. We further note that Dr. Neuschatz's testimony was inconclusive and speculative because he did not offer his opinions to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, but testified only that Josh's lineup identification "could" be unreliable and that in-court identifications "probably" are suggestive. Nor did Dr. Neuschatz submit any peer-reviewed publications supporting his principles and methodologies; the trial court had only the benefit of Dr. Neuschatz's curriculum vitae and his testimony that his studies had been subjected to peer review and publication and were generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. These facts further support the exclusion of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony.

Corrothers, 148 So.3d at 297 (¶ 35).

         ¶44. In the instant case, the trial court applied the Daubert factors and held that Dr. Neuschatz's theories were not generally accepted and that he did not provide information about the rate of error or the principles and methods used. As to the first factor, Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit cited several tests that support his theory that exposure time, appearance change/disguise, and post-identification feedback may affect eyewitness identifications. However, he did not submit documentation of the tests. Regarding peer review and publication, Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit stated that he has "published several articles in peer reviewed journals, written peer invited chapters, and presented [his] research findings at regional and national conferences." Again, however, he did not provide the articles. The same was true in Corrothers. Corrothers, 148 So.3d at 297 (¶ 35). Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit did not mention anything relevant to the third or fourth factors - the known or potential rate of error of the applied theory and the existence of standards and controls - therefore, the factors were not satisfied. Finally, Dr. Neuschatz cited several articles and studies supporting his theories to show that his theory is accepted in the scientific community but again, the articles were not submitted.

         ¶45. Because Flowers did not provide an additional proffer of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony, we have no way of knowing whether Dr. Neuschatz could have offered further support for the Daubert factors if he had provided live testimony. We do not hold that every expert is required to submit every article or report on which he or she relies. However, here, the trial judge - in exercising his considerable discretion - found that the defense did not present sufficient evidence in support of Dr. Neuschatz's opinions. The trial judge did not abuse his discretion in concluding that the affidavit alone was insufficient to withstand the Daubert analysis and in denying Dr. Neuschatz's testimony.

         ¶46. Dr. Neuschatz's affidavit included two opinions: that Collins's identification could have been affected by several factors and that the photo identification process was flawed. Regarding the photo array, the same issue was addressed in Corrothers, and we held that Dr. Neuschatz's testimony may have been more prejudicial than probative due to the risk of confusion. Corrothers, 148 So.3d at 297 (¶ 36). Allowing testimony from Dr. Neuschatz that the photo identification process was flawed, while also admitting evidence of the identification because the court determined that it was not impermissibly suggestive, could result in confusing the jury.[4] Thus, the trial court did not err in excluding Dr. Neuschatz's testimony about the photo-identification process.

         ¶47. As to Collins's identification, discussed at length supra, the judge held: "[G]iven the extensive cross-examination of Mr. Collins and because all other witnesses knew Mr. Flowers on sight, I do not believe an expert on witness identification would assist the jury in the least bit in this case." The quoted finding represents precisely the type of finding the trial judge is called upon to make. In determining the admissibility of expert testimony, the trial judge must determine whether the testimony will "assist the trier of fact" in understanding the evidence or issues, and the judge must be satisfied that the testimony is "more probative than prejudicial." Corrothers, 148 So.3d at 294 (¶¶ 24, 27) (citations omitted).

         ¶48. We recognize that many courts admit expert testimony regarding eyewitness identification, and we do not hold that such expert testimony is per se inadmissible. Rather, we recognize that the decision of "whether to admit this testimony is squarely within the discretion of the trial judge[.]" United States v. Moore, 786 F.2d 1308, 1312 (5th Cir. 1986). In Moore, the Fifth Circuit explained that "the trial court should exercise its discretion in deciding whether or not to admit it and should balance the reliability of the testimony against the likelihood that the testimony would overwhelm or mislead the jury." Id. (discussing United States v. Downing, 753 F.2d 1224 (3d Cir. 1985)). The Moore Court recognized that a trial judge's exclusion of expert eyewitness testimony was not harmful where "there was evidence indicating guilt apart from the eyewitness identification." Id. (citing United States v. Smith, 736 F.2d 1103, 1108 (6th Cir. 1984)). The Moore court wrote:

[I]n the present case we do not find that the district court abused its discretion in refusing to admit this evidence. We have earlier held and we now affirm that the decision whether to admit this testimony is squarely within the discretion of the trial judge and properly so. . . . Although admission of expert eyewitness testimony is proper, there is no federal authority for the proposition that such testimony must be admitted. The district judge has wide discretion in determining the admissibility of this evidence, and we hold that the district judge did not abuse his discretion in this case.
In some cases casual eyewitness testimony may make the entire difference between a finding of guilt or innocence. In such a case expert eyewitness identification testimony may be critical. But this is not at all the situation in the case before us. Even if the eyewitness identifications of Lamberth and Holder are completely disregarded, the other evidence of guilt is overwhelming. . . .
We emphasize that in a case in which the sole testimony is casual eyewitness identification, expert testimony regarding the accuracy of that identification is admissible and properly may be encouraged. In the present case, we find no abuse of discretion in not admitting such evidence. This was not a case where casual eyewitness identifications were at all critical.

Moore, 786 F.2d at 1312-13 (internal citations omitted).

         ¶49. Like the eyewitnesses in Moore, Collins's identification was far from the only evidence of guilt in the instant case, and it cannot be labeled "critical." No fewer than seven other witnesses placed Flowers near Angelica Garment Factory, where Simpson's gun was stolen, and near Tardy Furniture on the morning of the murders. Collins's testimony was no different. He identified Flowers as a man he saw outside Tardy Furniture. Out of all of the witnesses, Collins was the only witness placing Flowers near the scene who did not know Flowers. The other witnesses provided even more credible testimony as they recognized Flowers by sight, having known him previously. If the case hinged on Collins's identification of Flowers, expert testimony on eyewitness identification may have been helpful to the jury. However, as in Moore, that was not the situation.

         ¶50. The trial judge made a rational and reasoned decision regarding the admissibility of Dr. Neuschatz's testimony based on the totality of the facts before him. We afford "the widest possible discretion" to a trial judge's determination on the admissibility of expert testimony, and "that decision will only be disturbed when there has been a clear abuse of discretion." Smith v. State, 925 So.2d 825, 834 (¶ 23) (Miss. 2006) (quoting Logan v. State, 773 So.2d 338, 346-47 (¶ 31) (Miss. 2000)). The trial judge's ruling on Dr. Neuschatz's testimony was not an abuse of discretion. The issue is without merit.

         III. Whether the trial court erred in not excluding evidence of a single particle of gunshot residue found on Flowers's hand.

         ¶51. Investigator Jack Matthews interviewed Flowers on the day of the murders and asked him to submit to a gunshot residue test. Flowers agreed to the test. A single particle of gunshot residue was found on the back of Flowers's right hand. Joe Andrews, a forensic scientist who analyzed the gunshot residue test, testified that three scenarios can result in the presence of gunshot residue on a person's hands: (1) the person actually fired a gun; (2) the person was in close proximity to a discharged gun; or (3) the person handled an object that had gunshot residue on it. At trial, Flowers moved to exclude the evidence concerning the gunshot residue, and the trial court denied the motion. Flowers contends that the trial court erred in admitting evidence that a particle of gunshot residue was found on his hand approximately three hours after the murders were reported. Flowers claims that the prejudicial effect of the evidence greatly outweighed the probative value, so it was inadmissible under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 403.

         ¶52. Rule 403 provides: "Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence." Miss. R. Evid. 403. Applying Rule 403, the trial judge must conduct a balancing test to determine if the probative value of the evidence is "substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice[.]" McGowen v. State, 859 So.2d 320, 329 (¶ 29) (Miss. 2003). On appeal, we review a trial court's decision for abuse of discretion. Stone v. State, 94 So.3d 1078, 1085 (¶ 20) (Miss. 2012); Baldwin v. State, 784 So.2d 148, 156 (¶ 27) (Miss. 2001). We do not reweigh the evidence and conduct a new balancing test. "The question on review is not whether this Court would have admitted the evidence, but whether the trial court abused its discretion in doing so[.]" Stone, 94 So.3d at 1085 (¶ 20). See also Baldwin, 784 So.2d at 156 (¶ 27) (on appeal we "must simply determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in weighing the factors and admitting or excluding the evidence").

         ¶53. Flowers cites Foster v. State, 508 So.2d 1111 (Miss. 1987), in support of his argument. In Foster, the prosecution presented testimony that paint chips found on the victim's clothing were similar to paint chips found in the defendant's car. Id. at 1117. A chemist testified that the paint chips were "indistinguishable in color, texture, and inorganic chemical composition; and that they therefore could have had a common origin." Id. The State also presented evidence that the victim's stab wound was caused by a knife found in the defendant's car or one similar to it. Id. The Court characterized the testimony in Foster as "could have" testimony, which easily could mislead a jury, and held that the testimony was too speculative to be admissible. Id. at 1118. Thus, the Court held that the probative value of the testimony was substantially outweighed by the danger of misleading the jury. Id. at 1117-18.

         ¶54. We have distinguished Foster in other cases when the risks associated with "could have" testimony did not outweigh the probative value. In McGowen v. State, the Court held testimony that a victim's physical condition likely was caused by sexual assault did not result in unfair prejudice or jury confusion. McGowen, 859 So.2d at 334 (¶ 46). McGowen was distinguishable from Foster because the testimony in McGowen "did not employ or rely on phrases such as 'could have' or 'possible.' Rather, [the witness] merely testified as to the condition of [the victim's] body." Id. at 331 (¶ 36).

         ¶55. In the instant case, Andrews testified that the presence of gunshot residue could result from three scenarios, and Andrews's testimony was clear that the residue did not unequivocally prove that Flowers had fired a gun:

Q: Now, you are not telling the jury, are you, that finding a single particle of gunshot residue says that any individual actually pulled the trigger on a firearm, are you?
A: No, ma'am. The conclusions you can draw from finding and identifying the gunshot residue on the hands of the person are one of three conclusions: That person has discharged a weapon. That person has been in close proximity to a discharged weapon or that person has handled an object that has gunshot residue on it. Those are the three conclusions you can draw from a positive gunshot residue identification.
Q: The fact that you found that single particle does not bring this jury or us one step closer to knowing [by] which one of these three means that gunshot residue particle got on Mr. Flowers's hand; is that correct?
A: Yes, ma'am, that's correct.

         Andrews's testimony is distinguishable from the testimony contemplated in Foster. Andrews set out three events that could result in a person having gunshot residue on his hands. He clearly explained that the gunshot residue did not unequivocally show that Flowers had fired a gun. Because Andrews's testimony was clearly explained, there is little risk that the jury was confused or misled by the testimony. As such, the testimony was admissible under Rule 403, and the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in admitting it. The issue is without merit.

         IV. Whether the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as mandated by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Section Fourteen of the Mississippi Constitution.

         ¶56. Flowers claims that the evidence produced at trial was insufficient to support the verdict. He attacks the sufficiency of the evidence from multiple angles: (1) lack of motive; (2) lack of evidence that Flowers knew Simpson kept a gun in his car; (3) lack of evidence that one person, acting alone, committed the murders; (4) lack of the eyewitness credibility; and (5) lack of probative value of physical evidence. Flowers contends that the instant case is one of circumstantial evidence rather than direct evidence; therefore, he argues that the State was required to meet a higher burden of proof.

         ¶57. At the end of the State's rebuttal, Flowers moved for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV). The trial court denied the motion. "A motion for JNOV challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence." Taylor v. State, 110 So.3d 776, 782 (¶ 19) (Miss. 2013) (citing Knight v. State, 72 So.3d 1056, 1063 (¶ 24) (Miss. 2011)). We apply the following standard when reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence:

When ruling on a motion for JNOV, the trial court must view all credible evidence consistent with the defendant's guilt in the light most favorable to the State. The Court will not disturb the trial court's ruling if the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that [the] accused committed the act charged, and that he did so under such circumstances that every element of the offense existed; and where the evidence fails to meet this test it is insufficient to support a conviction, and reversal is required. Thus, the Court must determine whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Taylor, 110 So.3d at 782 (¶ 19) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Flowers was charged with four counts of capital murder with the underlying felony of armed robbery. Thus, the State was required to prove that Flowers killed each of the victims "without the authority of law by any means or any manner . . . [w]hen done with or without any design to effect death, [while] engaged in the commission of the crime of . . . robbery . . . ." Miss. Code Ann. § 97-3-19(2)(e) (Rev. 2014).

         A. Burden of Proof

         ¶58. Because Flowers claims that the burden of proof - and, consequently, the sufficiency of the evidence analysis - depends on whether the evidence is direct or circumstantial, we address burden of proof first. Flowers claims that the case is based on circumstantial evidence, not direct evidence. Therefore, he claims that the State must meet the following burden of proof:

It is fundamental that convictions of crime cannot be sustained on proof which amounts to no more than a possibility or even when it amounts to a probability, but it must rise to the height which will exclude every reasonable doubt; that when in any essential respect the State relies on circumstantial evidence, it must be such as to exclude every other reasonable hypothesis than that the contention of the State is true, and that throughout the burden of proof is on the State.

Westbrook v. State, 32 So.2d 251, 252 (Miss. 1947).

         ¶59. Flowers's case, however, is not a case of circumstantial evidence. If an eyewitness is produced or a statement from the defendant is admitted, the case is not circumstantial. Rubenstein v. State, 941 So.2d 735, 785 (¶ 225) (Miss. 2006); Ladner v. State, 584 So.2d 743, 750 (Miss. 1991). Further, a defendant's "admission of culpability . . . to a third party who is not a law enforcement officer constitutes direct evidence of a crime." Minor v. State, 831 So.2d 1116, 1119 (¶ 9) (Miss. 2002) (citing Ladner, 584 So.2d at 750). In Ladner, the Court held that a case is not based only on circumstantial evidence even if the only direct evidence is a "jailhouse confession." Ladner, 584 So.2d at 750. See also Foster, 508 So.2d at 1115 (Court held that, without the jailhouse confession, the prosecution's case would have been entirely circumstantial), overruled on other grounds by Powell v. State, 806 So.2d 1069 (Miss. 2001).

         ¶60. Odell Hallmon, a jailhouse informant, testified that Flowers had told him that he had committed the murders. According to Ladner, a jailhouse informant's testimony is considered direct evidence, and when a jailhouse informant's testimony is present, the case is not circumstantial. See Moore v. State, 787 So.2d 1282, 1288 (¶ 18) (Miss. 2001) (discussing Ladner, 584 So.2d at 750). Following the Court's holdings in Ladner and Moore, the trial judge found that Hallmon's testimony provided direct evidence of the crimes. We hold that the trial judge did not err in applying the Court's precedent. Under Ladner, the case sub judice is not one of circumstantial evidence, and the Westbrook standard suggested by Flowers does not apply.

         B. Sufficiency of the Evidence

         ¶61. Flowers claims that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Flowers asserts that the State failed to prove motive; that there was a lack of evidence that Flowers knew Simpson kept a gun in his car; that the evidence does not support the State's theory that the murders were committed by a single gunman; that the eyewitnesses were not credible; and that the physical evidence lacked probative value. First, although Flowers vehemently argues on appeal his theory that the number of victims and the placement of the gunshot wounds demonstrate that the murders were "almost certainly not a one-man crime, " that theory was not presented at trial. Therefore, Flowers cannot raise it on appeal. Lyons v. State, 766 So.2d 38, 40 (¶ 7) (Miss. Ct. App. 2000) ("Failure to raise this defense waives the right of the appellant to raise it here.").

         ¶62. Regarding motive, Flowers claims that the State failed to prove that he was so aggrieved about being firing from Tardy Furniture that the firing resulted in his murdering four people. To support his contention, Flowers cites his statement given to the police shortly after the murders. Flowers told investigators that he had worked at Tardy Furniture for about three days at the beginning of July 1996. On his last day, Flowers improperly loaded large tractor batteries, and they fell off the truck and were damaged. Bertha Tardy told Flowers that the cost of the damaged batteries would be deducted from his paycheck. Flowers failed to return to work after the incident. After not reporting to work for several days, Flowers called Bertha Tardy and asked if he still had a job. Bertha Tardy told Flowers that he no longer had a job and that the majority of his paycheck was "covered up with [the] batteries." Flowers never stated that he was angry with Bertha Tardy for losing his job.

         ¶63. Flowers is correct that the State did not provide direct evidence of any anger toward the Tardy Furniture employees, but the State did provide evidence that Flowers had lost his job at Tardy Furniture and had his paycheck reduced as a result of the damaged batteries. A reasonable juror could conclude from that evidence - and it is in the jury's province to draw such inferences if reasonable - that Flowers had a motive to rob Tardy Furniture and kill four employees. See Howell v. State, 860 So.2d 704, 739 (¶ 125) (Miss. 2003) ("It is within the jury's province to draw reasonable inferences from facts based on experience and common sense.") (citing Lewis v. State, 573 So.2d 719, 723 (Miss. 1990)). The State's evidence supported the contention that Flowers had a motive.

         ¶64. Next, Flowers contends that the State's theory hinged on proving that Flowers knew he would find a gun in Simpson's car the morning of the murders, and he claims the State failed to prove that. He cites Simpson's testimony that Flowers did not know Simpson's gun was in his car on the morning of the murders:

Q. Your testimony was you did not recall agreeing and saying there was no way that Curtis Flowers would have known that gun was in the car that particular morning.
A. No. He, he didn't know it.
Q. He did not know it.
A. He did not know it.

         Although Simpson stated at that point in his testimony that Flowers did not know the gun was in his car on the morning of the murders, Simpson had first testified that Flowers had seen the gun in Simpson's car previously. In a followup question regarding whether Flowers knew the gun was in his car that morning, Simpson confirmed that Flowers had seen the gun in his car before.

Q. So you had known [Flowers] pretty much forever.
A. Yes, sir. Yes, sir.
Q. Did he know that you had this pistol?
A. Yes, he did.
Q. Had he seen it in your car before?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. You were asked . . . whether or not there was any way he knew the gun was in there that morning and your answer was that it wasn't; is that right?
A. That's right.
Q. But you were also asked how [Flowers] knew you kept a gun in your car, I believe. How did [Flowers] know you had had a gun in your car? Had he seen it in there before?
A. Yes, sir, he had.

         ¶65. Because Flowers previously had seen Simpson's gun in his car, the evidence supports the contention that Flowers knew he would find the gun in Simpson's car the morning of the murders. The jury, as "the ultimate finder of fact, " is responsible for considering the evidence and weighing the credibility of witnesses, and the Court will not reweigh the evidence on appeal. Conley v. State, 790 So.2d 773, 807 (¶ 13) (Miss. 2001) ("We do not have the task of re-weighing the facts in each case and going behind the verdict of the jury to detect whether the testimony and evidence they chose to believe was or was not the most credible."). Whether the jury believed that Flowers knew Simpson kept a gun in his car was one piece of evidence for the jury to consider.

         ¶66. Flowers also attacks the credibility of the witnesses who placed him walking between his home, Angelica Garment Factory, and Tardy Furniture the morning of the murder. He asserts that the $30, 000 reward for information lured the witnesses to testify. Several witnesses testified that they were aware a reward was being offered for information.[5] Some witnesses were not asked about the reward. Two of Flowers's fact witnesses, Latarsha Blissett and Kittery Jones, testified that investigators had implied that they would receive the reward if they provided statements implicating Flowers. The reward was never given. The jury heard testimony related to the reward, and Flowers's counsel argued during closing argument that investigators allegedly had tried to entice witness statements by offering the reward. The issue was within the jury's province of determining credibility. See Taylor, 110 So.3d at 784 (¶ 29).

         ¶67. Flowers also claims that testimony from people who saw him on the morning of the murders is not credible because the witnesses' testimony contains "irreconcilable differences." One difference Flowers cites is the witnesses' descriptions of his clothing. One witness testified that Flowers was wearing black windsuit pants; another said Flowers had on brown pants; and another thought Flowers wore white shorts. Flowers also points out that the times at which the witnesses claimed to have seen him at various locations in Winona overlap. For example, James Kennedy testified that he saw Flowers in front of his home at 7:15 a.m., but Katherine Snow said that she saw Flowers at Angelica at 7:15. Inconsistency in witness testimony is an issue of credibility for the jury. "It is within the jury's province to determine the weight and credibility to give to the evidence, resolving all conflicts in the evidence." Taylor, 110 So.3d at 784 (¶ 29).

         ¶68. Finally, Flowers claims that the physical evidence linking him to the murders lacks probative value. First, he argues that the bloody shoeprint found at the scene does not connect him to the crime, because another person could have come into the store after the murders and stepped on the bloody floor. His assertion lacks merit. The shoeprint was from a size ten-and-a-half Fila Grant Hill tennis shoe. Flowers wore a size ten-and-a-half shoe. A shoebox for size ten-and-a-half Fila Grant Hill tennis shoes was found in Flowers's girlfriend's home. Witnesses testified that they had seen Flowers wearing Fila Grant Hill shoes. Second, Flowers contends that the gunshot residue particle found on his hand has no probative value, claiming that it could have come from another source. As discussed above, Joe Andrews, a forensic scientist, testified that the gunshot residue found on Flowers's hand could prove one of three things: (1) he had discharged a weapon; (2) he had been in close proximity to a discharged weapon; or (3) he had handled an object that had gunshot residue on it. Although the gunshot residue could have come from another source (for example, coming in contact with an item at the police station), one alternative was that Flowers actually fired a weapon. Thus, the evidence does have some probative value.

         ¶69. The State responds to Flowers's claim that the evidence was insufficient by citing the following evidence linking Flowers to the murders: Flowers was fired from Tardy Furniture and was told he would not receive pay for his days worked. Flowers was seen standing next to Simpson's car - where the gun used in the murders was located - on the morning of the murders. Numerous witnesses saw Flowers walking to and from Tardy Furniture on the morning of the murders. The shoeprint found at the crime scene matched Flowers's shoe size and matched a pair of shoes he had been seen wearing. Flowers tested positive for gunshot residue. The only paperwork that had been disturbed at Tardy Furniture was Flowers's paycheck and timecard. Cash was found hidden in Flowers's headboard after the murders. Hallmon testified that Flowers had confessed to committing the murders. When the evidence is viewed as a whole and in the light most favorable to the State, we conclude that any rational trier of fact could have found that the State had proved the essential elements of capital murder beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the issue is without merit.

         V. Whether Flowers's right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by Mississippi law and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, was violated by the prosecution referencing facts not in evidence during the culpability phase closing argument.

         ¶70. Flowers claims that the prosecution improperly argued facts not in evidence during its culpability phase closing argument. During closing arguments, attorneys may "fairly sum up the evidence, " comment on facts in evidence, and "draw whatever deductions and inferences" seem proper from the facts. Rogers v. State, 796 So.2d 1022, 1027 (¶15) (Miss. 2001); Bell v. State, 725 So.2d 836, 851 (¶ 40) (Miss. 1998) (citations omitted). We apply the following standard of review to attorney misconduct during opening statements and closing arguments: "whether the natural and probable effect of the improper argument is to create unjust prejudice against the accused so as to result in a decision influenced by the prejudice so created." Sheppard v. State, 777 So.2d 659, 661 (¶ 7) (Miss. 2001) (citing Ormond v. State, 599 So.2d 951, 961 (Miss. 1992)).

         ¶71. "Where prosecutorial misconduct endangers the fairness of a trial and the impartial administration of justice, reversal must follow." Goodin v. State, 787 So.2d 639, 645 (¶ 18) (Miss. 2001) (citing Acevedo v. State, 467 So.2d 220, 226 (Miss. 1985)). However, we have held that, even if a prosecutor's statements during closing arguments are inconsistent with the facts, reversal is not warranted if the statements do not rise to the level necessary to endanger the impartial administration of justice and the fairness of the trial. Pitchford v. State, 45 So.3d 216, 233 (¶ 62) (Miss. 2010) (quoting Goodin, 787 So.2d at 645 (¶ 18)). In Pitchford, the prosecutor said that the defendant "went to the sheriff's department the same morning of the murder and he admitted it." Pitchford, 45 So.3d at 233 (¶ 62). The testimony, however, was that the defendant "talked to" an investigator. Id. Despite the inconsistency, the Court held that the statement did not result in an unfair trial. Id.

         ¶72. Flowers claims that, during closing argument, the prosecution misstated facts about: (1) the time Sam Jones discovered the victims at Tardy Furniture; (2) Flowers's motive; (3) Porky Collins's response to the photo arrays; and (4) the location of the victims at the crime scene. The State correctly asserts that Flowers did not object contemporaneously to the statements during closing argument. Generally, even in death penalty cases, "the failure to object to the prosecution's statements in closing argument constitutes a procedural bar." Ross I, 954 So.2d at 1001 (¶ 71) (citing Spicer v. State, 921 So.2d 292, 309 (Miss. 2006); Williams v. State, 684 So.2d 1179, 1203 (Miss. 1996)). However, in some cases, we have considered the merits of the argument even where the defendant failed to object contemporaneously. See Ross I, 954 So.2d at 1002 (¶ 71) (citing cases).

         ¶73. In Flowers II, we recognized plain error for misstatements by the prosecution in closing arguments. Flowers II, 842 So.2d at 550-56 (¶¶ 52-74). Therefore, because we found plain error on a similar issue in Flowers II, we proceed under a plain error analysis for the purpose of a thorough analysis. Foster v. State, 639 So.2d 1263, 1289 (Miss. 1994) ("defendant who fails to make a contemporaneous objection must rely on plain error to raise the assignment on appeal") (citing Gray v. State, 487 So.2d 1304, 1312 (Miss. 1986)). To reverse under the plain error doctrine, an error must have occurred and that error must have "resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice" or "seriously affect[ed] the fairness, integrity[, ] or public reputation of judicial proceedings." Conners v. State, 92 So.3d 676, 682 (¶ 15) (Miss. 2012) (quoting Brown v. State, 995 So.2d 698, 703 (¶ 21) (Miss. 2008)).

         A. Sam Jones's Arrival at Tardy Furniture

         ¶74. Flowers claims that, during closing argument, the State misrepresented Sam Jones's testimony regarding the timeline of events on the morning of the murders. Jones died prior to Flowers's 2010 trial, so his testimony from the 2007 trial was read into evidence. Jones initially testified that he arrived at Tardy Furniture between 9:15 and 9:30 a.m. When the State questioned Jones about the timeline, the State's attorney misstated Jones's arrival time as being closer to 10:00 a.m. The State's attorney asked, ". . . when you got to the store, that was going to be closer on up to 10 o'clock, wasn't it?" Flowers's counsel objected to leading, but the judge overruled the objection. However, Jones never responded to the question. During closing argument, the State discussed the timeline and the attorney said: "Mr. Sam Jones came into the store slightly after 10:00 on the morning of the 16th and discovered the bodies." Flowers claims the statement was prejudicial because it skewed the timeline in the State's favor. Both Porky Collins and Clemmie Flemming testified that they had seen Flowers near Tardy Furniture around 10:00 a.m. Flowers claims that, if Jones's testimony that he arrived at the store between 9:15 and 9:30 had been described accurately, it would have raised a question in the jurors' minds about what Flowers was doing near the murder scene thirty to forty-five minutes after the murders could have occurred.

         ¶75. The State responds that, although Jones did not testify to arriving at the store at 10:00 a.m., other evidence presented at trial supported that position. For example, the 911 call reporting the murders was placed at 10:20 a.m., and Jones testified that he was in Tardy Furniture for ten to fifteen minutes before going to a nearby business to call for help. So, working backward, the conclusion could be drawn that Jones arrived at Tardy Furniture closer to 10:00 a.m., rather than 9:15 or 9:30. Further, the State claims that any misstatement relating to the time Jones arrived was harmless error, and the error was cured with the following comments by defense counsel in its closing statement:

[Sam Jones] came in and you know, his testimony, I looked it up as they were saying that. His original testimony was he might have gotten there, started his voyage to go in to - as early as 9:00. He, he thought maybe he got there closer to 9:30. But we know from the police that the call came in at 10:20. And if you will remember, Mr. Jones also told you he thought it might have been 15 minutes before he recovered himself enough to go and actually make the report. So there is a bunch of time in there.

         Sam Jones did not testify that he arrived at Tardy Furniture at 10:00 a.m. However, a reasonable inference could be drawn from the other evidence, including the 911 call, that Jones may have arrived closer to 10:00. Defense counsel's summary of the timeline in closing and the reasonable inference that could be drawn from the evidence as a whole preclude a finding of plain error on the issue.

         B. Flowers's Motive

         ¶76. Next, Flowers claims that the following statement by the prosecutor about Flowers's alleged motive was not based on facts in evidence:

The investigators learned pretty quickly when they asked who in the world could have had some reason, some motive, some anything to attack four people like this.
Have you had anybody that's had beef with the store? Just one. Well, that doesn't mean he did this though, does it? No. But you check that out. You look at him. And in the course of deciding what, if anything, Curtis Flowers had to do with this crime.

         In his brief, Flowers claims that no evidence was presented to support the State's theory that Flowers was angry about being fired. To the contrary, the State identified several facts that supported the contention that Flowers "had beef" with Tardy Furniture: Flowers lost his job days before the murders. Bertha Tardy deducted the cost of damaged inventory from Flowers's paycheck. Police Chief John Johnson testified that the Tardy family considered Flowers a threat and that "they were concerned about their safety dealing with him." Investigator Jack Matthews testified Flowers was the only employee who had been fired from Tardy Furniture in the last few years and was the only person with whom they had had any problems. Doyle Simpson testified that he had heard that Flowers had "problems" with Tardy Furniture. A reasonable inference could be drawn from the evidence that Flowers had ill will toward Tardy Furniture. We cannot say that the State's comment during closing rose to the level of plain error.

         C. Porky Collins's Response to the Photo Lineups

         ¶77. In his third assignment of error, regarding alleged misstatements by the prosecution, Flowers claims that the prosecutor misrepresented Porky Collins's response to the photo lineup that included Doyle Simpson's photograph. The misrepresentation was prejudicial to Flowers's defense, he claims, because his defense was based partially on the theory that Simpson committed the murders. Collins testified that he did not remember if he had identified Simpson as one of the men he had seen arguing outside Tardy Furniture. Notes taken by an investigator during the photo arrays provided that Collins had said that two of the individuals resembled one of the men but that the "hairline was further back." Investigator Wayne Miller testified that Collins had pointed to Simpson during the photo array and said he looked like the person, but he could not be positive. Collins was shown a second array of photos, and he definitively identified Flowers.

         ¶78. During closing argument, the State's attorney said the following about Collins's identification: "He said the guy ain't there. They took another six photographs and said look at this second set. He said that's him right there. . . . You know, see if he is in there. No, he is not. Is he in the second group? Yeah. That's him right there." The State correctly reiterated that Collins had identified Flowers in the second photo array as one of the men he had seen arguing outside Tardy Furniture. While the State's statement that Collins had said "the guy ain't there" was not an accurate representation of Collins's response to the first photo array, the reality is that Collins did not identify Simpson. He said he could not be sure. He pointed to Simpson's photograph in the first array and said he "looked like" the man he saw but he was "unable to be positive." However, when Collins saw Flowers in the second array, he was positive. The prosecutor's statement was slightly inconsistent with the facts, but we cannot say that the comment rose to the level of plain error.

         D. Location of the Victims at the Crime Scene

         ¶79. Flowers contends that the prosecutor incorrectly described the location of the victims at the crime scene. The prosecutor stated during closing argument that Sam Jones had discovered "all four victims basically laying in a pile, in a group right at the front counter in Tardy Furniture Store." The evidence presented at trial, however, showed that three of the victims were lying a few feet apart from one another, while the fourth victim was a considerable distance away. Flowers argues that the prosecutor's statement was prejudicial because it aided in undercutting the theory that the murders were committed by more than one person. Essentially, Flowers claims that the idea of four victims "piled together" aligns with a one-person crime, whereas victims spread across a larger area paints the picture of a two-man crime. The State admits that the "lying in a pile" statement was incorrect, but the State points out that three of the four victims were lying close to one another. The State asserts that the statement did not prejudice Flowers. As previously mentioned, Flowers did not present the "two-man crime" theory to the jury. And Flowers does not claim that the prosecutor's statement prejudiced him in any other way. Applying the plain error doctrine, the statement may have been an error, but we cannot say that it resulted in a manifest miscarriage of justice or resulted in an unfair trial. See Conners, 92 So.3d at 682 (¶ 15).

         E. Conclusion

         ¶80. We recognize that, in Flowers II, the prosecution's misstatement of facts during closing argument was one basis for reversal. Flowers II, 842 So.2d at 556 (¶ 74). In that appeal, Flowers cited approximately fourteen alleged misstatements. Id. at 555 (¶ 68). Taken together, the cumulative effect of the misstatements, along with several other errors, warranted reversal. Id. at 556, 564 (¶¶ 74, 104). In today's case, Flowers cites four statements made during closing argument that he claims were not supported by the evidence. The prosecutor's comments regarding Jones's arrival time, Flowers's having "beef" with the store, and Collins's identification were supported by the evidence and/or were proper "deductions and inferences" drawn from the facts. Rogers, 796 So.2d at 1027 (¶15); Bell, 725 So.2d at 851 (¶ 40). The statement about the bodies being piled up was a misstatement, but it does not satisfy the standard for plain error. We reiterate that Flowers failed to object to the statements during closing, therefore, we apply the plain error doctrine on appeal. Plain error is not present, as we have only one misstatement, which did not result in a manifest miscarriage of justice or adversely affect the fairness of the proceedings. Conners, 92 So.3d at 682 (¶ 15). The issue is without merit.

         VI. Whether the jury selection process violated Flowers's fundamental constitutional rights protected by the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments, and whether the trial court erred in denying Flowers's Batson claims.

         ¶81. Flowers claims that the State exercised its peremptory strikes in a racially discriminatory way by striking five African-American venire members after employing disparate questioning and citing pretextual reasons for the strikes. As previously mentioned, the Supreme Court issued an order granting Flowers's petition for a writ of certiorari and remanding the case "for further consideration in light of Foster v. Chatman, 578 U.S.__, 136 S.Ct. 1737, __L.Ed.2d __(2016)." Flowers, 136 S.Ct. at 2157.

         ¶82. An order granting, vacating, and remanding a lower court decision does not amount to a final determination on the merits. Kenemore v. Roy, 690 F.3d 639, 641 (5th Cir. 2012). Such an order "does not bind the lower court to which the case is remanded; that court is free to determine whether its original decision is still correct in light of the changed circumstances or whether a different result is more appropriate." Id. at 642. The Supreme Court often vacates a judgment and remands a case when it "believes that the lower court should give further thought to its decision in light of an opinion of [the Supreme] Court that (1) came after the decision under review and (2) changed or clarified the governing legal principles in a way that could possibly alter the decision of the lower court." Flowers, 136 S.Ct. at 2157 (Alito, J., dissenting).

         ¶83. The Court afforded Flowers and the State an opportunity to submit supplemental briefs on remand in accordance with the Supreme Court's order. Rather than point out how the Court should give further thought to its decision in light of Foster or explain how Foster changed or clarified the governing legal principles in a way that possibly could alter our decision, Flowers essentially re-urges the arguments he had raised in his most recent appeal.

         ¶84. Flowers contends that "[f]rom the beginning, " the State's lead prosecutor Doug Evans engaged in a "relentless exclusion of African Americans from the juries[.]" Flowers's petition for certiorari to the Supreme Court raised the following question: "Whether a prosecutor's history of adjudicated purposeful race discrimination must be considered when assessing the credibility of his proffered explanations for peremptory strikes against minority prospective jurors?" Flowers argues that "the Supreme Court's remand for reconsideration requires this Court to reevaluate the evidence of pretext in light of the prosecutor's history of discrimination and dishonesty."

         ¶85. Flowers points out that, during his second trial, the trial court disallowed one of Evans's strikes because it had found it to be racially motivated. Flowers also points out that the Court said that Flowers's third trial presented us with as strong a prima facie case of racial discrimination as we had ever seen in the context of a Batson challenge. Flowers III, 947 So.2d at 935.

         ¶86. In Flowers III, the Court held that the prosecutor had violated Batson because the peremptory challenge exercised against juror Vickie Curry was clearly pretextual as there was no basis in the record for two of the grounds proffered by the prosecutor. Id. at 936. Moreover, the third ground was based on a relationship between Curry and Flowers that was "tenuous at best." Id. at 936. The Court also noted the trial court's erroneous statement that "the State has a right to exercise a challenge based on some of the answers from the other jurors as far as their peremptory challenge goes." Id. The Court also held that the prosecutor's actions in striking juror Connie Pittman were "equally specious, as there [was] absolutely no evidence in the record to support the [the prosecutor's] proffered reason for striking her." Id. The Court classified the strikes of three other jurors as "suspect, as an undertone of disparate treatment exist[ed] in the State's voir dire of [the other three] individuals." Id. The Court concluded that, "[a]fter carefully reviewing the record before this Court and the applicable law, we find that the State engaged in racially discriminatory practices during the jury selection process and that the trial court committed reversible error in upholding the peremptory strikes exercised against Vickie Curry and Connie Pittman." Id. at 939.

         ¶87. As an initial matter, Foster in no way involved a particular prosecutor's history of adjudicated Batson violations. Rather, the Supreme Court's decision in Foster hinged on several apparent misrepresentations made by the prosecution, evidenced by the record in conjunction with the prosecution's troubling jury selection file, which had a shocking focus on race. Nonetheless, we analyze Foster on our own to look for other issues that might place our original opinion in Flowers IV in error.

         ¶88. In Foster, petitioner Timothy Foster claimed that the prosecution used peremptory challenges to strike all four black prospective jurors qualified to serve on the jury in his trial for capital murder, in violation of Batson. Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1742. The trial court denied his claim, and the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed. Id. Foster renewed his Batson claim in a state habeas proceeding. Id. While the habeas proceeding was pending, Foster obtained copies of the file used by the prosecution during his trial through the Georgia Open Records Act. Id. at 1743-44.

         ¶89. The prosecution's jury selection file was replete with documents referencing race, including: (1) copies of the jury venire list on which the names of each black prospective juror were highlighted in green, with a legend indicating that the green highlighting "represents Blacks"; (2) a draft of an affidavit prepared by an investigator at the request of the prosecutor, comparing black prospective jurors and concluding, "If it comes down to having to pick one of the black jurors, [this one] might be okay"; (3) handwritten notes identifying three black prospective jurors as "B# 1, " "B# 2, " and "B# 3"; (4) a typed list of qualified jurors with "N" (for "no") appearing next to the names of all five black prospective jurors; (5) a handwritten document titled "definite NO's" listing six names, including the names of all five qualified black prospective jurors; (6) handwritten document titled "Church of Christ" with notation that read: "NO. No Black Church"; and (7) the questionnaires filled out by several of the prospective black jurors, on which each juror's response indicating his or her race had been circled. Id. at 1744.

         ¶90. The state habeas court considered the prosecution's jury selection file but denied relief. Id. at 1745. The Georgia Supreme Court likewise denied relief, concluding that Foster's Batson claim was without merit because he had failed to demonstrate purposeful discrimination. Id. at 1745. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Id. The Supreme Court reemphasized the familiar principle that "the Constitution forbids striking even a single prospective juror for a discriminatory purpose." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1747 (quoting Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472, 478 (2008)). The Supreme Court also reaffirmed the well settled, three part process established in Batson for determining when a strike is discriminatory:

First, a defendant must make a prima facie showing that a peremptory challenge has been exercised on the basis of race; second, if that showing has been made, the prosecution must offer a race-neutral basis for striking the juror in question; and third, in light of the parties' submissions, the trial court must determine whether the defendant has shown purposeful discrimination.

Id. (quoting Snyder, 552 U.S. at 476-477).

         ¶91. The Supreme Court addressed only Batson's third step because it was undisputed that Foster had demonstrated a prima facie case and that the prosecutors had offered race-neutral reasons for their strikes. Id. at 1747. The third "step turns on factual determinations, and, 'in the absence of exceptional circumstances, ' we defer to state court factual findings unless we conclude that they are clearly erroneous." Id. (quoting Snyder, 552 U.S. at 477).

         ¶92. Despite uncertainty about the background of particular jury selection notes obtained by Foster, the Supreme Court refused to blind itself to their existence. Id. at 1748. The Supreme Court "made it clear that in considering a Batson objection, or in reviewing a ruling claimed to be Batson error, all of the circumstances that bear upon the issue of racial animosity must be consulted." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1748 (quoting Snyder, 552 U.S. at 478). "As [the Supreme Court has] said in a related context, 'determining whether invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor demands a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial evidence of intent as may be available.'" Id. (quoting Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Dev. Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 266 (1977)). "At a minimum, [the Supreme Court was] comfortable that all documents in the file were authored by someone in the district attorney's office. Any uncertainties concerning the documents [were] pertinent only as potential limits on their probative value." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1748.

         ¶93. Foster focused his Batson claim on the strikes of two black prospective jurors, Marilyn Garrett and Eddie Hood. Id. at 1748. The Supreme Court analyzed the prosecution's justifications for striking Garrett and Hood.

         ¶94. The Supreme Court determined that the prosecution's reasoning for striking Garrett was "not grounded in fact." Id. at 1748-49. Furthermore, the Supreme Court also discovered that the prosecution had made misrepresentations because several of the prosecution's reasons for why he struck Garrett were contradicted by the record. Id. at 1749-50. The Supreme Court also determined that other explanations given by the prosecution, while not explicitly contradicted by the record, were "difficult to credit" because the prosecution had accepted white jurors with the same traits that allegedly rendered Garrett an unattractive juror. Id. at 1750.

         ¶95. As for the other juror, Hood, the Supreme Court said that the prosecution's principal reasons for striking him "shifted over time, suggesting that those reasons may be pretextual." Moreover, the Supreme Court concluded that the prosecution's justifications could "only be regarded as pretextual" because the justifications were "implausible" and "fantastic." Id. at 1752-53 (citing Miller-El v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 339 (2003) (holding that credibility can be measured by, among other factors, how reasonable, or how probable, the State's explanations are)). As for an alternative primary justification for striking Hood--his affiliation with the Church of Christ--the Supreme Court was persuaded by the record demonstrating that Hood's race was the true motivation for the strike, not his religious affiliation. Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1753. The Supreme Court noted the prosecution's multiple mischaracterizations of the record that other prospective jurors, who were members of the Church of Christ, had been struck. Id. at 1753. The Supreme Court also said that "[t]he prosecution's file fortifies our conclusion that any reliance on Hood's religion was pretextual." Id. The Supreme Court also determined that "[m]any of the State's secondary justifications similarly come undone when subjected to scrutiny." Id.

         ¶96. The Supreme Court proceeded with its Batson analysis: "[i]f a prosecutor's proffered reason for striking a black panelist applies just as well to an otherwise-similar nonblack [panelist] who is permitted to serve, that is evidence tending to prove purposeful discrimination." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1754 (quoting Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231, 241 (2005)). "With respect to both Garrett and Hood, such evidence is compelling." Id. at 1754. Not only was the evidence "compelling, " there were "also the shifting explanations, the misrepresentations of the record, and the persistent focus on race in the prosecution's file." Id. "Considering all of the circumstantial evidence that 'bear[s] upon the issue of racial animosity, ' [the Supreme Court [was] left with the firm conviction that the strikes of Garrett and Hood were 'motivated in substantial part by discriminatory intent.'" Id. (quoting Snyder, 552 U.S. at 478, 485).

         ¶97. The Supreme Court insisted that the contents of the prosecution's file plainly belied the State's claim that it had exercised its strikes in a "color-blind" manner. Id. In fact, the Supreme Court described the number of references to race in the prosecution's file as "arresting." Id. The Supreme Court held that "the focus on race in the prosecution's file plainly demonstrat[ed] a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury." Id. The Supreme Court concluded that the "prosecutors were motivated in substantial part by race when they struck Garrett and Hood from the jury[.]" Id. The Supreme Court reversed the judgment and remanded the case for further proceedings because "[t]wo peremptory strikes on the basis of race are two more than the Constitution allows." Id.

         ¶98. After reviewing Flowers's supplemental briefs, the only aspect of Flowers VI that Flowers takes issue with as it relates to Foster is that the Court did not expressly refer to the prosecutor's past Batson violations in our analysis of Flowers's Batson claim. Flowers claims that the Court did not follow the "totality-of-the-circumstances approach" used in Foster; rather the Court confined itself to evaluating each piece of evidence of pretext in isolation, affording the prosecutor the benefit of the doubt where the evidence was ambiguous. Flowers argues "although [Doug] Evans had distinguished himself as an especially willful and recalcitrant Batson violater, " the Court "omitted that well-documented history from its assessment of the credibility of his facially neutral reasons."

         ¶99. "[T]he State's privilege to strike individual jurors through peremptory challenges is subject to the commands of the Equal Protection Clause." Batson, 476 U.S. at 89. The Supreme Court in Foster reaffirmed the well established, three step process for determining when a strike is discriminatory as set out in Batson. Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1747. When a defendant challenges a peremptory strike under Batson, the defendant must first "establish a prima facie case of discrimination in the selection of jury members." Thorson v. State, 721 So.2d 590, 593 (¶ 2) (Miss. 1998) (citing Berry v. State, 703 So.2d 269, 294 (¶¶ 94-96) (Miss. 1997) (citing Batson, 476 U.S. at 96-98)). Then, the burden shifts to the State to demonstrate that the juror was struck for a nondiscriminatory, or race neutral, reason. Thorson, 721 So.2d at 593 (¶ 2). The defendant then has the opportunity to rebut the State's reason. Id. Finally, considering all of the evidence, the trial court must determine if the State "engaged in purposeful discrimination" or if the strike was made for a race neutral reason. Id. In other words, the trial court must determine whether the race neutral reasons given by the State were credible or merely a pretext for discrimination.

         ¶100. The Court has identified five indicia of pretext that should be considered when analyzing the race neutral reasons for a peremptory strike:

(1)disparate treatment, that is, the presence of unchallenged jurors of the opposite race who share the characteristic given as the basis for the challenge;
(2)the failure to voir dire as to the challenged characteristic cited; (3) the characteristic cited is unrelated to the facts of the case; (4) lack of record support for the stated reason; and (5) group-based traits.

Manning v. State, 765 So.2d 516, 519 (¶ 9) (Miss. 2000) (quoting Mack v. State, 650 So.

         2d 1289, 1298 (Miss. 1994)).

         ¶101. Foster did not alter the great deference given to trial judges. The third step of Batson "turns on factual determinations, and, 'in the absence of exceptional circumstances, ' we defer to state court factual findings unless we conclude that they are clearly erroneous." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1747 (quoting Snyder, 552 U.S. at 477). We give great deference to the trial court's determinations under Batson and will reverse only if the trial court's decision is clearly erroneous or against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. Berry v. State, 802 So.2d 1033, 1037 (¶ 9) (Miss. 2001); Thorson, 721 So.2d at 593 (¶ 4). "The trial court has a pivotal role in evaluating Batson claims. " Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472, 477 (2008). We have expounded on the standard of review afforded to trial judges regarding Batson findings as follows:

When a Batson issue arises, the trial judge acts as the finder of fact. Berry v. State, 703 So.2d 269, 295 (Miss. 1997). . . . The race neutral explanations must be viewed in the light most favorable to the trial court's findings. Id. Trust is placed in a trial judge to determine whether a discriminatory motive drives the reasons given for striking a potential juror. See Webster v. State, 754 So.2d 1232, 1236 (Miss. 2000). The determination of discriminatory intent will likely turn on a trial judge's evaluation of a presenter's credibility and whether an explanation should be believed. Batson, 476 U.S. at 98[.] Thus, trial courts are given great deference in their findings of fact surrounding a Batson challenge. Lockett v. State, 517 So.2d 1346, 1350 (Miss. 1987). . . .

Walker v. State, 815 So.2d 1209, 1215 (¶ 12) (Miss. 2002).

         ¶102. "Step three of the Batson inquiry involves an evaluation of the prosecutor's credibility." Snyder v. Louisiana, 552 U.S. 472, 477 (2008). "[T]he best evidence of discriminatory intent often will be the demeanor of the attorney who exercises the challenge[.]" Id. Moreover, race neutral reasons for peremptory challenges often invoke a juror's demeanor, making the trial court's firsthand observations of even greater importance. Id. The trial court must evaluate not only whether the prosecutor's demeanor belies a discriminatory intent, but also whether the juror's demeanor credibly can be said to have exhibited the basis for the strike attributed to the juror. Id. The trial court's "determinations of credibility and demeanor lie peculiarly within a trial judge's province[.]" Id. (citations and quotations omitted).

         ¶103. "[I]n considering a Batson objection, or in reviewing a ruling claimed to be Batson error, all of the circumstances that bear upon the issue of racial animosity must be consulted." Foster, 136 S.Ct. at 1748 (citing Snyder, 552 U.S. at 478). On the same note, "determining whether invidious discriminatory purpose was a motivating factor demands a sensitive inquiry into such circumstantial evidence of intent as may be available." Foster, 136 S.Ct. 1737, 1748 (citing Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 266).

         ¶104. The Montgomery County clerk summoned a special venire of 600 potential jurors for Flowers's sixth trial. The initial venire consisted of forty-two percent African Americans and fifty-five percent whites.[6] After for-cause challenges, the venire consisted of twenty-eight percent African Americans and seventy-two percent whites. During jury selection, the State accepted the first African-American juror, then exercised six peremptory strikes, five of which were against African-American venire members. At the point when five African Americans were struck by the State, the trial court found that a prima facie case of discrimination existed. The State then provided race neutral reasons for the five strikes, and Flowers's counsel offered rebuttals for the State's reasons. Ultimately, the trial court found that the State's reasons were credible.

         ¶105. Essentially, Flowers is asking the Court to reevaluate the credibility of Evans's race neutral explanations for striking African Americans in the sixth trial. However, as we explained in Flowers VI, "the determination of discriminatory intent will likely turn on a trial judge's evaluation of a presenter's credibility and whether an explanation should be believed." Flowers VI, 158 So.3d at 1047 (citing Batson, 476 U.S. at 98).

         ¶106. Here, the trial court was asked on several occasions to consider historical evidence of Batson violations committed by Evans in previous trials of the case. Flowers's counsel even asked the trial court to preclude Evans from making peremptory strikes entirely based on his history of Batson violations in the case. Specifically, Flowers's counsel urged:

And I would renew the motion with respect to -- and I, I would now re-urge this, when I've not previously urged. We had in the last trial urged that should this jury -- that the prosecutor be, be precluded from making peremptory strikes because so much of this -- because there is the history that has been found by the Mississippi Supreme Court of racial discrimination in jury selection with respect to this case by this prosecution. It's happened actually -- the predecessor in Flowers II, in Harrison County, found a Batson violation and ruled a strike by the State. So that in two proceedings and on the basis of what has been a persistent pattern of simply, you know, asking things that are clearly, if not flatly race or at least race-based[.]

         The trial court responded to Flowers's counsel's request:

And as far as the motion to prohibit the State from using peremptory challenges, there is no basis for that. Absolutely none. If the State looks at potential jurors and feels that they have right reasons for using peremptory challenges, that is their right. That is each sides [sic] gets to make peremptory challenges. But because Flowers III was reversed on Batson is certainly no grounds for saying that they should now be denied the right to use peremptory. The Supreme Court of this State has certainly never said that on a retrial you could not use peremptory challenges, nor has the United States Supreme Court ever said that. And so you're pulling that motion totally out of thin air and without any basis in law or in fact for making it. So it's denied.

         ¶107. Flowers's counsel continued to argue the history of Batson violations in support of the Batson claim at trial:

And we think it is, therefore, pretextual specific and particularly in light under -- of the history of race discrimination in jury selection in this district and in this particular case found by the Mississippi Supreme Court in State v. Flowers after the third trial, the first one in this district.

         Indeed, the trial court was presented with and rejected Flowers's present argument that he had advanced at trial. Flowers argued to the trial court:

And I think that that is in Flowers III, what the Supreme Court of Mississippi said was that when you are looking at Batson, you look at the totality of the circumstances and you go beyond little excuses. And that the danger, certainly, in Flowers III is to devolve -- for the Batson challenging process, to devolve into an effort of uncovering and coming up with facially neutral reasons that are merely a mask for actually racially discriminatory reasons, the desire to bleach or -- I suppose, if it were the other way around darken or make male or make female, the jury and that the Court, considering the totality of the circumstances, cannot simply express this distinction. This is based on the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause. And there is a huge body of equal protection civil litigation. It is referred to by the United States Supreme Court in Snyder, the most recent case in which a verdict was reversed on Batson in the United States Supreme Court. And basically, the situation is that you may go behind the facial neutrality if anything in the record suggests that one or more of the reasons may be either unconnected and related to what is really a material issue in this case and/or appears to have been pursued with more vigor in an attempt to uncover some excuse that is of less than universal relevance.

         Again, Flowers's counsel ensured that the trial court consider the totality of the circumstances, including historical evidence of racial discrimination by the district attorney.

Again, we would cite the totality of the circumstances and the apparent cherry picking of the African-American jurors for scrutiny and attention. And in light of the history of racial discrimination by this district attorney's office in this district, we would say the totality of the circumstances makes this a pretext for discrimination and attempt to look for race-neutral reasons for racially motivated peremptory striking.

         ¶108. The trial court not only considered Flowers's counsel's argument in its consideration of the totality of the circumstances; the Flowers Court also considered other circumstances showing that Evans did not have discriminatory intent. The trial court certainly considered circumstances surrounding the previous trials as evidenced by its response to Flowers's Batson claim:

But you know full well from past experiences in this county because of the number of people that know Mr. Flowers, they know his parents, they know his brother, they know his sisters, and he I mean he has got a large number of siblings. And all of those people you know, I mean he is so well-known here that, you know, you've got a number of African-Americans that say I know him. I can't be fair. I know these people. I can't sit in judgment of their son. And there is there is no way to avoid that if this case is tried in this county. Because this is the same type things that, that occurred in the previous trials where he had so many people that knew him. You know, I don't -- I hadn't kept a running count of anything in here but, you know, there is nothing that has -- that has -- no discrimination that's occurred that has caused this, what you call, statistical abnormality now. It is strictly because of the prominence of his family.

         ¶109. The prior adjudications of the violation of Batson do not undermine Evans's race neutral reasons as the despicable jury selection file in Foster had undermined the prosecution's race neutral explanations. We cannot say that the exceptional circumstances discussed in Foster are present in today's case so as to prevent the Court from deferring to the trial court's factual determinations. Moreover, we cannot conclude that the trial court's factual findings were clearly erroneous.

         ¶110. Flowers's post-remand briefs spend far more time re-urging the arguments from his original appellate brief than addressing Foster itself. Accordingly, Flowers appears to rely on Miller-El v. Dretke, 545 U.S. 231 (2005) (Miller-El II) instead. In Miller-El II, the Supreme Court held "the appearance of discrimination [was] confirmed by widely known evidence of the general policy of the Dallas County District Attorney's Office to exclude black venire members from juries at the time Miller-El's jury was selected." Id. at 253. The Supreme Court said, "[w]e kn[e]w that for decades leading up to the time this case was tried prosecutors in the Dallas County office had followed a specific policy of systematically excluding blacks from juries[.]" Id. at 263. The evidence of a specific policy of past discrimination in Miller-El II significantly differs from the evidence before the Court. The Court does not find Evans's past two adjudicated Batson violations overcome the deference owed to the trial judge's factual findings on which the Court's affirmance relies. The Court does not have evidence before it of a similar policy of the district attorney's office or of a specific prosecutor that was so evident in Miller-El II. Miller-El II, 545 U.S. at 266 ("If anything more is needed for an undeniable explanation of what was going on, history supplies it. The prosecutors took their cues from a 20-year-old manual of tips on jury selection, as shown by their notes of the race of each potential juror.").

         ¶111. We turn to address Flowers's arguments raised on appeal. Flowers claims that the State exercised its peremptory strikes in a racially discriminatory way by: (1) disparately questioning African-American jurors as compared to white jurors; (2) responding differently to African-American jurors' voir dire answers as compared to answers of white venire members; and (3) mischaracterizing the voir dire responses of African-American jurors. We do not ignore the historical evidence of racial discrimination in the previous trials in our consideration of Flowers's arguments. However, the historical evidence of past discrimination presented to the trial court does not alter our analysis, as set out in Flowers VI.

         A. Disparate Questioning

         ¶112. Flowers claims that the questioning of African-American and white jurors was so "starkly different" that the questioning led to purposeful discrimination. First, Flowers asserts that the State asked potential African-American jurors more questions during individual voir dire than potential white jurors. Flowers claims that all African Americans who were struck by the State were asked more than ten questions. That statement is not supported by the record. For example, the State asked Carolyn Wright, an African American against whom the State exercised a peremptory strike, only three questions. However, overall, the State did ask more questions of African-American jurors than of potential white jurors. The State responds that more questions were asked only when a potential juror's answers to voir dire questions were unclear or needed further elaboration. Disparate questioning is evidence of purposeful discrimination. Miller-el v. Cockrell, 537 U.S. 322, 344 (2003); Manning, 765 So.2d at 520 (¶ 15). However, evidence of disparate questioning alone is not dispositive of racial discrimination. Hughes v. State, 90 So.3d 613, 626 (¶ 37) (Miss. 2012); Manning, 765 So.2d at 520 (¶ 15); Berry, 802 So.2d at 1039 (¶ 20).

         ¶113. Second, Flowers claims that the State did not question white venire members about their relationships with defense witnesses even though African-American jurors were extensively questioned about similar relationships. To support his argument, Flowers claims that, during voir dire examination by the trial court, four white venire members - Larry Blaylock, Harold Waller, Marcus Fielder, and Bobby Lester - stated that they knew defense witnesses. The record reveals that the potential jurors knew members of law enforcement, the Tardy family, and the victims; but they did not know members of the Flowers family. Of the white jurors who survived for-cause challenges, five knew members of Flowers's family. Four of them knew only one member of Flowers's family; the State did not follow up with them. Pamela Chesteen knew Flowers's father, mother, sisters, and a cousin. The State did not question Chesteen about the relationships during voir dire; however, the trial court asked Chesteen whether the relationships would affect her ability to serve as a juror, and she said they would not. Several African-American venire members were questioned about their relationships with Flowers's family, as will be discussed in detail in the following section. However, the State did not question all potential African-American jurors about their relationships with persons involved in the case. For example, Alexander Robinson, an African American who was selected to be a juror, stated that he knew Flowers's brother, but the State did not question Robinson about that relationship.

         ¶114. The State's assertion that elaboration and followup questions were needed with more of the African-American jurors is supported by the record. Most of the followup questions pertained to the potential juror's knowledge of the case, whether they could impose the death penalty, and whether certain relationships would influence their decision or prevent them from being fair and impartial. The jurors who had heard little about the case, who said they would not be influenced by what they had heard, and who said they would not be influenced by relationships were asked the fewest questions. The jurors who knew more about the case, who had personal relationships with Flowers's family members, who said they could not be impartial, or who said they could not impose the death penalty were asked more questions. Those issues are appropriate for followup questions.

         ¶115. We have held that voir dire "is conducted under the supervision of the court, and a great deal must, of necessity, be left to its sound discretion." Howell v. State, 860 So.2d at 726 (¶ 67) (quoting Ballenger v. State, 667 So.2d 1242, 1250 (Miss. 1995)). "The trial court has broad discretion in passing upon the extent and propriety of questions addressed to prospective jurors." Howell, 860 So.2d at 727 (¶ 70) (quoting Stevens v. State, 806 So.2d 1031, 1062 (¶ 140) (Miss. 2001)). The trial judge participated in voir dire, asking his own questions when necessary. Flowers was given ample opportunity to question jurors, rehabilitate jurors, and make challenges. That he had these opportunities is evidence of a fair and proper jury selection process. See Howell, 860 So.2d at 726 (¶ 69); Stevens, 806 So.2d at 1062 (¶ 139). There is no evidence of discrimination based on the number of questions asked alone.

         B. Disparate Treatment of Individual Venire Members

         ¶116. Flowers also contends that the State: (1) responded differently to African-American jurors' voir dire answers compared to the answers of white venire members, and (2) mischaracterized the voir dire responses of African-American jurors. For the purpose of our analysis, the two issues are addressed together by discussing the African-American venire members who were struck from the venire by the State's use of peremptory strikes. We address the State's race neutral reasons for striking the jurors, as well as Flowers's arguments regarding each, which includes his contentions that the State mischaracterized the voir dire responses of the jurors and responded differently to them.

         1. Carolyn Wright

         ¶117. The State gave the following reasons for its peremptory strike of Carolyn Wright: (1) she knew several defense witnesses; (2) she was sued by Tardy Furniture for an overdue account; and (3) she had worked with Archie Flowers Sr. at Walmart. At the Batson hearing, Flowers offered rebuttals for the State's reasons, but the trial court held that the State's reasons for striking Wright were race neutral. The trial court summed up its finding by stating:

If the only reason the State offered was that she knows some of these defense witnesses, then there might be something there. But the fact is knowing these defense witnesses that you're intending to call, plus the fact that Tardy Furniture had to sue her, plus the fact that she worked with Archie, in my mind, creates race-neutral reasons for striking her.

         ¶118. One reason the State gave for striking Wright was that she knew multiple defense witnesses. In fact, Wright knew a total of thirty-four people who were involved with Flowers's case. Flowers argues that striking Wright because she knew several potential witnesses was pretextual because the State did not strike white jurors who were acquainted with multiple people involved in the case. Specifically, Flowers points to Pamela Chesteen, who knew thirty-one people involved in the case; Harold Waller, who knew eighteen people involved in the case; and Bobby Lester, who knew twenty-seven people involved in the case. We recognize that one of the indicia of pretext is "the presence of unchallenged jurors of the opposite race who share the characteristic given as the basis for the challenge." Manning, 765 So.2d at 519 (¶ 9). However, the number of acquaintances was not the sole reason given by the State, so the basis is not an automatic showing of pretext. Hughes, 90 So.3d at 626 (¶ 37) ("Where multiple reasons lead to a peremptory strike, the fact that other jurors may have some of the individual characteristics of the challenged juror does not demonstrate that the reasons assigned are pretextual.").

         ¶119. The second reason the State gave for striking Wright was that she had been sued by Tardy Furniture. As a rebuttal to that reason, Flowers alleged at the Batson hearing that the State did not question white jurors about their accounts at Tardy Furniture. However, the court had asked all jurors during group voir dire if they had accounts at Tardy Furniture and if they had been sued by the store. The court found that the basis was race neutral because none of the white jurors had been sued by Tardy Furniture. On appeal, Flowers claims that the State mischaracterized Wright's litigation with Tardy Furniture by claiming that her wages had been garnished as a result of the litigation. Nothing in the record supports the contention that Wright's wages were garnished. However, that does not change the fact that being sued by Tardy Furniture was a race neutral reason for striking Wright. Prior litigation is a race neutral reason for a preemptive strike. See Webster v. State, 754 So.2d 1232, 1236 (¶¶ 9-11) (Miss. 2000) (finding that potential juror's company being sued by defense attorney in previous and unrelated litigation was sufficient race neutral reason for peremptory strike).

         ¶120. The State's third reason for striking Wright was that she worked with Archie Flowers Sr. at Walmart. At the Batson hearing, Flowers rebutted that reason by comparing Wright's working relationship with Archie to Chesteen, a teller at a local bank where members of the Flowers family were customers. The trial court found this to be a race neutral reason and found that Wright's working relationship with Archie was distinguishable from the professional relationship Chesteen had with the Flowers family. Chesteen worked at a local bank in Winona and stated that she knew Archie Flowers Sr., Lola Flowers, and Flowers's sisters from her work at the bank. We agree with the trial judge that a coworker relationship and bank employee/customer relationship are distinguishable. Further, the trial court stated that the Winona Walmart was the "smallest Wal-Mart . . . in existence" that he knew of, implying that Wright and Archie certainly had known each other. The trial court also stated that no white jurors had reported working at Walmart with Archie. Being acquainted with the defendant's family is a race neutral reason for striking a juror. Manning v. State, 735 So.2d 323, 340 (¶ 32) (Miss. 1999) ("We have condoned a peremptory challenge against a juror who was acquainted with the defendant's family.") (citing Porter v. State, 616 So.2d 899, 907 (Miss. 1993)).

         ¶121. Flowers's claim that the State provided "no convincing reasons" for striking Wright is simply unfounded. Wright had worked with Flowers's father, she knew thirty-two of the potential witnesses, and she had been sued by Tardy Furniture. We also note that, on her juror questionnaire, Wright wrote that she previously had served as a juror in a criminal case involving the "Tardy Furniture trial." The State had multiple, credible, race neutral reasons for striking Wright, and the trial judge did not err in denying Flowers's Batson challenge as to the juror.

         2. Dianne Copper

         ¶122. The State cited the following reasons for its exercise of a peremptory strike of Dianne Copper: (1) she had worked with Flowers's father and sister; (2) she knew several members of the Flowers family; (3) she said she "leaned toward" Flowers's side of the case due to her relationships with the Flowers family; and (4) she knew several defense witnesses. Flowers offered rebuttal to the State's reasons by again asserting that the State had not challenged white jurors connected to people involved in the case. He also claimed that the State did not attempt to rehabilitate Copper after she said leaned toward Flowers. The trial court found the State's reasons to be race neutral, concluding that Copper's relationships were distinguishable from those of the white jurors who were not challenged and recognizing that other jurors had not said they favored Flowers as Copper did.

         ¶123. During voir dire, Copper was questioned about her relationships with members of the Flowers family, and she revealed the following: Copper once lived in the same neighborhood as the Flowers family. She had worked with Flowers's sister, Cora, at Shoe World for "a year or two." She also had worked with Flowers's father for "one or two years." Copper testified that she knew Flowers's mother, Lola, and his brother, Archie Jr. She also knew more than twenty other potential witnesses. Altogether, Copper knew at least thirty people involved in the case. The State asked Copper about her comment that knowing so many people connected to the case would make her lean toward Flowers:

Q. And I think it was yesterday and my notes show that you said that the fact that you know all of these people could affect you and you think it could make you lean toward him because of your connection to all of these people. Is that correct?
A. It - it's possible.
Q. Okay. That would be something that would be entering into your mind if you were on the jury, wouldn't it?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. And it would make it to where you couldn't come in here and, just with an open mind, decide the case, would it?
A. Correct.

         At that point, Flowers's counsel attempted to rehabilitate Copper:

Q. . . . What I'm trying to find out is just as you could put aside all the information you heard before about this case, could you not also put aside the fact - if you got picked as a juror, put aside the fact that you have met Mr. Flowers, that you know some other people in these cases and be fair to the Tardys, the Stewarts, the Goldens, and Rigbys, and make whatever decision or vote that you're going to make based on the evidence and the evidence only. Could you do that?
A. I feel like I could. But, you know, it -
Q. Is what you're saying -
A. Of course, it would make me, you know, feel uncomfortable. But if I had to do it, you know, I got to do what I got to do.
Q. Okay. So you're saying that - thank you. You're saying that you'll be uncomfortable. You'd prefer not to - I get the impression you're saying that you'd rather not be a juror. But if you got picked to be one, you would take the responsibility seriously, and you would follow the law and the rules that the Court give[s] you, and you would put aside anything that you are required to put aside and make your evidence and make your vote based on just the evidence you hear in the courtroom. Is that fair to say?
A. Yes, sir. That's correct.

         Clearly, Copper knew several members of the Flowers family and she was uncomfortable serving on the jury. That reason alone is a sufficient race neutral reason to strike her. Manning, 735 So.2d at 340 (¶ 32). Further, we have recognized "living near the defendant" as a race neutral reason for a peremptory strike. Lockett v. State, 517 So.2d 1346, 1356 (Miss. 1987) (citing Taitano v. State, 358 S.E.2d 590 (Va.App. 1987)).

         ¶124. On appeal, Flowers claims that the State mischaracterized Copper's statement that she "leaned toward" Flowers due to her relationship with the Flowers family, but a reading of the record shows that the State correctly described her voir dire testimony. The State made the following argument during the Batson hearing:

And the reason I point that out, it's not just that she knows those witnesses, but that because of knowing the family and working with those two family members, she stated that that relationship would influence her. She later said that - well, she could have an open mind. And then she was equivocal back and forth. But because of all those relationships, she clearly stated, when I asked her, that they would influence her. She could not have an open mind, and she was leaning toward the Defendant's family.

         The State's argument accurately reflected Copper's testimony, including the defense's attempt to rehabilitate her. Even more, defense counsel asked Copper if she would "rather not be a juror, " and she agreed. The Court has recognized that reluctance to serve as a juror is a race neutral basis for a peremptory strike. Hughes, 90 So.3d at 626 (¶ 36) (citing Lynch v. State, 877 So.2d 1254, 1274 (¶ 59) (Miss. 2004)).

         ¶125. Flowers claims that the State's strike of Copper was pretextual because white jurors who knew several defense witnesses were not struck. As mentioned above, one indicium of pretext is "the presence of unchallenged jurors of the opposite race who share the characteristic given as the basis for the challenge." Manning, 765 So.2d at 519 (¶ 9). However, like Wright, the number of acquaintances was not the sole reason given by the State for striking Copper, so the instant basis is not an automatic showing of pretext. See Hughes, 90 So.3d at 626 (¶ 37). Again, Flowers claims that the State did not provide any convincing reasons for striking Copper and, again, Flowers's claim is unfounded. Copper lived in the same neighborhood as the Flowers family, knew multiple members of the family, and had worked with Flowers's father and sister. She admitted that, in light of the relationships, she leaned toward Flowers in the case. Copper also said that she would rather not serve as a juror. All of the given reasons are race neutral reasons for a peremptory strike. The trial court did not err in denying Flowers's Batson challenge as to Copper.

         3. Flancie Jones

         ¶126. The State gave several reasons for the peremptory strike of Flancie Jones: (1) she was related to Flowers; (2) she was late for jury selection twice; (3) she provided inconsistent statements on her view of the death penalty; and (4) she lied on her juror questionnaire in an attempt to get out of jury service. The trial court found that the State had provided sufficient race neutral reasons for the strike.

         ¶127. In response to the State's first basis - that Jones is related to Flowers - Flowers claims that the State mischaracterized and exaggerated Jones's relationship with Flowers. The State described the relationship between the two as follows: "She is related to the defendant. She admitted that she was related - she was a cousin - or the defendant's sister, Angela Jones, is her niece. So she said she guessed she must be related to him. Well, I guess so. He would be her nephew." During voir dire, Jones said that Flowers was her "sister-in-law's sister's son." She also said that Flowers's sister was her niece. Jones's statements regarding her relationship to Flowers were confusing, but the trial court seemed to understand and concluded that Jones had more than one familial connection to Flowers. The trial court stated:

She said that Angela Ward Jones was married to Mark Jones, and she said that was her nephew. She's not directly related to Mr. Flowers. She's related by marriage to Mr. Flowers's sister. And then Hazel Jones is her husband's brother's wife and, you know, that's another family connection there.

         Although one may not typically describe the child of an in-law's sibling as a niece or nephew, Jones's own statement that Flowers's sister was her niece supported the State's position that Flowers was Jones's nephew. Flowers's contention that the State mischaracterized and exaggerated the relationship is without merit. And, again, being acquainted with the defendant's family is a race neutral reason for striking a juror. Manning, 735 So.2d at 340 (¶ 32).

         ¶128. The other reasons the State provided for its strike also are race neutral. Jones was late for jury selection on two days. For one of the days, Jones's excuse was that she had difficulty waking up early in the morning because she used to work nights. On the other day, Jones said she was late because she was looking for her jury questionnaire. Jones also provided inconsistent statements on her view of the death penalty, and she admitted that she wrote on her questionnaire that she was against the death penalty in an effort to get out of jury service:

Q: . . . And I think on your questionnaire, you said you were strongly against the death penalty.
A: I guess I'd say anything to get off.
Q: Okay. Well, are you saying that you didn't tell the truth?
A: No, that's not that. It's just that if I didn't have to be here, I wouldn't want to be here.
Q: Well, I want to know when you put down you were strongly against the death penalty -
A: I was trying to not be - I - really and truly, I don't want to be here. I'll say it like that.
Q: When you put down that you strongly didn't believe in the death penalty, were you being truthful?
A: No . . . .

         Being late on two days, lying on her questionnaire, and blatantly saying that she did not want to be there and that she would "say anything to get off" reflect an overall attitude of contempt toward jury service.

         ¶129. Jones's late arrival and her attitude toward jury service, evidencing a lack of concern about or commitment to the proceedings, are two race neutral reasons for a peremptory strike. See Lynch, 877 So.2d at 1274 (¶ 59) (reluctance to serve was a race neutral basis for a peremptory strike); Brewer v. State, 725 So.2d 106, 122 (Miss. 1998) (fact that the juror "had attempted to get off jury duty from the start" was a race neutral reason); Lockett, 517 So.2d at 1351-52 (striking of jurors based on attitude toward jury service is race neutral). In Lockett v. State, the Court provided a nonexhaustive list of race neutral reasons that had been recognized by other courts. The Court cited a Seventh Circuit case in which the court upheld the peremptory strike of a juror who arrived late and was inattentive, which indicated "a lack of commitment to the importance of the proceedings." Lockett, 517 So.2d at 1356 (citing U.S. v. Mathews, 803 F.2d 325, 331 (7th Cir. 1986)). See also Hicks v. State, 973 So.2d 211, 220 (¶ 28) (Miss. 2007) (inattentiveness is a race neutral reason). Unquestionably, Jones's attitude toward jury service was a proper race neutral reason for striking her.

         ¶130. The State did not misrepresent Jones's relationship with Flowers, and the State provided several race neutral reasons for striking her. Flowers's claims regarding Jones are without merit. The trial court did not err in denying Flowers's Batson challenge regarding the juror.

         4. Tashia Cunningham

         ¶131. The State's reasons for striking Tashia Cunningham included: (1) her working relationship with Flowers's sister, and (2) her wavering statements about the death penalty. At the Batson hearing, Flowers attempted to rebut by pointing to Cunningham's testimony that she could be a neutral juror and could set aside her relationship with Flowers's sister. Flowers compared Cunningham to Chesteen, who knew Flowers's family from the bank. Finally, Flowers claimed that Cunningham's alleged wavering views on the death penalty were similar to the views of white jurors. The trial court held that the State's reasons were race neutral, concluding: "Ms. Cunningham's all-over-the-map response to the death penalty, plus her situation about working so closely with Mr. Flowers's sister, in my mind, the State has shown race-neutral reasons for that strike."

         ¶132. During voir dire, Cunningham said she did not have a close relationship with Flowers's sister, Sherita Baskin. She said they had a "working relationship." Cunningham said she and Baskin had worked the same shift for two or three years, but they did not see each other every day at work. Cunningham said she worked at the end of the assembly line, and Baskin worked at the front of the line. The State asked Cunningham further questions about that relationship:

Q: And you work with the Defendant's sister, Sherita Baskin?
A: Yes.
Q: Now, the other day, I think you said that you do not work close to her?
A: No, I do not.
Q: Would you think about that for a minute?
A: I do not.
Q: Are you sure that you do not work side by side with her?
A: No, I do not.
Q: And you're saying that under oath?
A: Yes, sir.

         The State then called Cunningham's employer, ADP, to confirm her testimony relating to her working relationship with Baskin. An ADP quality control clerk, Crystal Carpenter, testified that Cunningham and Baskin worked on the same assembly line with twenty-five to thirty-five people. Carpenter testified that Cunningham and Baskin worked side-by-side, "nine or ten inches" apart from one another. Carpenter testified that she saw the women working every day and that her testimony was based on her personal observations. Flowers's counsel asked Carpenter if there was documentation supporting the location of Cunningham and Baskin on the assembly line, and Carpenter said she could provide documentation supporting her testimony. Apparently, Carpenter did not provide the documentation. Thus, Flowers claims that the instant basis for the State's peremptory strike is unfounded. Flowers's claim is without merit.

         ¶133. We hold that the blatantly conflicting testimony of Cunningham and Carpenter was a race neutral basis for the State's challenge, as concern about a juror's honesty constitutes a race neutral reason. See Collins v. State, 691 So.2d 918, 927 (Miss. 1997) (a juror will be disqualified for withholding substantial information or misrepresenting material facts); Mack, 650 So.2d at 1300 (State's challenge upheld where the juror failed to reveal that her husband had pending charges against him); Foster, 639 So.2d at 1280 (as to one juror, the State said "his demeanor was such that I did not feel that he was being perfectly honest with us" and the Court held that the State had provided race neutral reasons). See also Aguilar v. State, 847 So.2d 871, 877 (¶ 14) (Miss. Ct. App. 2002) (concern that juror was being dishonest was a valid reason).

         ¶134. The State cited Cunningham's wavering views on the death penalty as a second basis for its peremptory strike. On her juror questionnaire, Cunningham marked that she had "no opinion" on the death penalty but, on the very next question, she marked that she would not consider the death penalty under any circumstances. During voir dire by the trial court, Cunningham first said she "would not" consider the death penalty and that she "did not believe in the death penalty." She confirmed for the court three times that she would not consider the death penalty. However, as questioning continued, Cunningham wavered, saying she "might" be able to consider it. During voir dire by the State, Cunningham went back to her initial position that she did not think she could consider the death penalty. Then, when questioned by defense counsel, Cunningham said that she could consider both life in prison and the death penalty. We have held that "having doubts as to one's ability to follow the law and vote for the death penalty when appropriate is a sufficient race-neutral reason." Manning, 735 So.2d at 340 (¶ 31) (citing Johnson v. State, 529 So.2d 577, 584-85 (Miss. 1988)). Further, providing inconsistent statements is a race neutral basis for striking a juror. Hicks, 973 So.2d at 220 (¶ 27); Lynch, 877 So.2d at 1272 (¶ 51) (verbal responses and juror's card were inconsistent).

         ¶135. During the Batson hearing, Flowers's counsel attempted to compare Cunningham to Jeffery Whitfield, a white juror who had "mixed feelings about the death penalty." Unlike Cunningham, Whitfield never said that he would be unable to impose the death penalty. We have recognized that a juror's views on the death penalty may provide a race neutral basis for a peremptory challenge. See Batiste, 121 So.3d at 848; Pitchford, 45 So.2d at 229 (¶40); Flowers III, 947 So.2d at 920-21. In Flowers III, the Court held that striking an African American who had "virtually indistinguishable" views on the death penalty as white jurors who were not struck raised an inference of discrimination, although, standing alone, it did not warrant finding a Batson violation. Flowers III, 947 So.2d at 921. In the instant case, no white jurors survived for-cause challenges who had views on the death penalty comparable to Cunningham's views. Thus, this basis was not pretextual. Cunningham's seeming dishonesty about her relationship with Baskin, her doubt about whether she could impose the death penalty, and her inconsistent statements about the death penalty are all race neutral reasons for a peremptory strike. The trial court did not err in denying the Batson challenge as to Cunningham.

         5. Edith Burnside

         ¶136. The State gave the following reasons for striking Edith Burnside: (1) she knew Flowers and members of his family; (2) she was sued by Tardy Furniture; and (3) she had provided inconsistent statements regarding her views on the death penalty. As discussed above, during group voir dire, the trial court asked the entire venire if anyone had been sued by Tardy Furniture. Thus, again, Flowers's claim that only African-American venire members were asked about prior litigation is incorrect. Burnside responded in the affirmative, telling the court that she had been sued by Tardy Furniture. She later explained that she had paid the amount she owed and that the litigation had arisen from a misunderstanding about her account after the murders.

         ¶137. At the Batson hearing, the State incorrectly stated that a garnishment had been issued against Burnside. The prosecutor said: "She also was sued by Tardy Furniture, and a garnishment was issued against her. She tried to deny that and said that she just settled with them when she came back but she was, in fact, sued by them." In response to the trial court's question about being sued by the store, Burnside had said: "I had an account there, but I was not sued by Ms. Bertha. It was later on when it was took over by Mr. Frank and Roxanne." During individual voir dire, Burnside confirmed that she was sued by Bertha Tardy's son-in-law, but that she had paid him and they "never had a falling out about it." She said the lawsuit would not cause her any difficulty in Flowers's case. Like the State's characterization of Wright's litigation with Tardy Furniture, the statement that Burnside's wages had been garnished and that Burnside had denied it was not supported by the record. However, prior litigation is a race neutral basis for a peremptory strike. Webster, 754 So.2d at 1236 (¶¶ 9-11).

         ¶138. Another reason the State gave for striking Burnside was her relationships with Flowers and his family. Burnside said that she had once lived near the Flowers family, and Flowers and his sister used to visit her home. Flowers was a friend of Burnside's sons and played football with them. Burnside said that the relationships would not affect her ability to serve as a juror. No white venire members had relationships remotely comparable to the relationships Burnside had with Flowers and his family. A juror's relationships with the defendant's family is a race neutral reason for a peremptory challenge. Manning, 735 So.2d at 340 (¶ 32). And, again, "living near the defendant" is a race neutral reason for a peremptory strike. Lockett, 517 So.2d at 1356. If simply living near the defendant is a valid reason, then certainly the defendant having visited the juror's home and having been a friend to her children is a valid, race neutral reason. Although Burnside said her connections to the Flowers family would not affect her jury service, the basis is not pretextual.

         ¶139. Finally, the State cited Burnside's statements regarding whether she could judge another person and whether she could impose the death penalty as bases for its peremptory strike. During voir dire, Burnside testified as follows:

Q: . . . And so I want to know if the facts justified it and the law allowed it, could you consider the death penalty as a sentencing possibility?
A: That I don't think I could do. I don't know if I could do that. . . . I don't - I don't know if I could consider it, sending anybody to death. I don't know if I could do that.
Q: And can you explain further your views on that?
A: I've just never been put in that predicament. I've always just don't know if I could do that. It's just the best way I can explain it. I just don't think I could do that.
Q: Again, let me explain. You're not committing to do it or not to do it. You're just - we just need to know if that's something that would be in your mind where you could think about it ...

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