Mississippi man admits to killing two police officers, deal helps him avoid possible death sentence

Published 2:52 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Man pleads guilty in killing of Mississippi police officers

A Mississippi man pleaded guilty Wednesday in the 2018 shooting deaths of two police officers, and a judge gave him two sentences of life in prison.

Marquis A. Flowers, 28, pleaded guilty to the two counts of first-degree murder, just five days before jury selection was scheduled to begin in his capital murder trial. In pleading guilty, he avoided the possibility of the death penalty.

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Brookhaven Police Department Cpl. Zach Moak, 31, and patrol officer James White, 35, were shot to death Sept. 29, 2018, while responding to a call about shots being fired at a home.

Flowers was on parole for a vehicle burglary conviction when Moak and White were killed. Flowers was arrested and charged shortly after the officers were killed, and he was sent to the state prison system to finish serving his sentence in the vehicle burglary. Flowers was moved in March 2020 from Central Mississippi Correctional Facility to a county jail.

On Oct. 28, 2019, Flowers was indicted on two counts of capital murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He pleaded not guilty to all three counts on Nov. 12, 2019.

District Attorney Dee Bates had said he would pursue the death penalty in the killings of the two officers. In Mississippi, only a jury can hand down a death sentence. By pleading guilty without facing a jury, Flowers avoided that possibility.

Flowers on Wednesday also pleaded guilty to the firearm charge, and Circuit Judge Richard McKenzie gave him a 10-year sentence for that.

McKenzie ruled in December that Flowers’ trial would be moved outside Lincoln County, where the killings occurred, because of heavy news coverage when the officers were slain. Jury selection was supposed to have started next Monday in northern Mississippi, and the jurors were to be taken back to the southern part of the state for the trial.