October 25, 2020

Accused killer of two police officers appears in court

A Brookhaven man arrested at the scene where two police officers were murdered in late September has officially been charged with their deaths.

Marquis Aaron Flowers, 26, was charged in Brookhaven City Court Tuesday with two counts of capital murder in the shooting deaths of Brookhaven policemen Zach Moak and James White, who were murdered at a residence on North Sixth Street before dawn Sept. 29. Flowers was also charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. All three charges are felonies.

Judge Brad Boerner presided over the short session, assigning public defender Jason Barrett as Flowers’ attorney and setting a preliminary hearing in city court for Jan. 8.

“There are going to be quirks about having an attorney — it has to be someone certified in capital murder cases,” Boerner told Flowers, who stood before the judge on a thin yellow line taped to the floor, his feet wrapped in blue prison-issue shoe covers.

Flowers did not speak, except to answer, “no sir,” to several questions Boerner asked to determine if a public defender was warranted.

Flowers was arrested at the home when law enforcement found him with gunshot wounds after Moak and White were killed in an apparent shootout while responding to a call of “shots fired” before 5 a.m. that day. Brookhaven Police Chief Kenneth Collins, in a series of speaking engagements in the weeks of mourning that followed the killings, said Moak exchanged gunfire with a suspect while trying to pull White to safety.

Flowers was kept under guard at a Jackson-area hospital while he recovered from his wounds, and was transferred back into the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on Oct. 17 for “pending charges of capital murder” and sent to the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation has been in charge of the case since the shootings occurred and was the agency that brought the charges Tuesday.

Flowers made his initial appearance in a small courtroom filled with law enforcement officers and few civilians. His yellow prison jumpsuit stood out from the dark orange worn by inmates from the Lincoln County Jail who appeared before Boerner earlier in the day, and it hung off his thin body, the letters “CMCF” — Central Mississippi Correctional Facility — folded over on his back as he faced the judge.

His hair and beard were wooly, and he walked slowly with a chain between his ankles. Signs of his gunshot wounds were not apparent. He gave the judge his four or five “no sirs” quietly, and when Boerner dismissed him, a pair of prison handlers in tiger-stripe camouflage and heavy boots jumped to either side of him to lead him out of the room.