Everett Curry Jr. was 9 years old when the father for whom he is named was gunned down while begging for his life.
It’s not a time the son, now 33, likes to relive.
On Thursday, though, some of those painful memories came rushing back when he learned that one of the two men responsible for his father’s death — and the only one to avoid execution — is being paroled.
Curry said it was “unbelievable” that the Mississippi Parole Board the day before had unanimously approved letting Paul Murrell Stewart out of prison after 24 years behind bars for the 1995 slayings of Everett Curry Sr. and Eddie Brooks.
“For a crime of that weight, I feel like he’s supposed to be locked up forever,” said Everett Jr., who for the past year has been living in Minneapolis, where he works at a grocery distribution center. He said the latest development in what has been a seven-year effort to win Stewart’s release has been “mind-consuming.”
“I’m just trying to come to grasp with it all over again. I just really don’t know what to make of it. I’m just in total disbelief right now.”
Everett Sr. was 38 years old, employed as a guard at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, when his path fatally crossed with Stewart and Hart Turner.
Stewart, then 17 and a junior at Pillow Academy, had spent the night driving around Leflore and Carroll counties with the 22-year-old Turner, drinking beer and smoking marijuana before embarking on their robbery and killing spree.
Turner had led a mentally tortured existence, including a failed attempt five years earlier to kill himself that left his face, from the mouth down, disfigured.
After Turner gunned down Eddie Brooks, a Carroll County convenience store clerk, he and Stewart drove 4 miles to another convenience store. Everett Curry Sr. was there, pumping gas into his vehicle. While Stewart went inside to rob the store, Turner robbed Curry and then shot him in the head with a high-powered rifle, ignoring the pleas from the father of two young children to not kill him.
Following his arrest, Stewart struck a plea deal with prosecutors, agreeing to testify against Turner in exchange for two life sentences without the possibility of parole. In 2017, in accord with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forbade the sentencing of juveniles to life without parole except in extraordinary circumstances, he was resentenced to two life sentences with the possibility of parole.
Turner was executed at Parchman in 2012. Everett Curry Jr., then 25, was one of four family members of the victims to witness the lethal injection.
He said he had no regrets about watching Turner, whom he had never seen in person before that day, die.
“I don’t want to sound demented, but it was almost a pleasure for me to see that,” Curry said.
“I’m not going to say it was closure. ... It’s never going to close that wound. It’s kind of a Band-Aid almost.”
The release date for Stewart, 41, is still to be determined. He is presently housed at the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs.
Among the reasons cited for granting him parole, besides a commendable prison record and expressions of remorse for his crimes, was that Stewart did not shoot either of the two victims.
That fact, however, did not soften Curry’s attitude toward the gunman’s accomplice.
“I feel like if he was in the car, he knew what was going on,” Curry said. “He should be held accountable as well as the other guy was.”
•Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or firstname.lastname@example.org.