Convicted murderer gets two more prison terms for 2005 slayings

Convicted murderer and rapist Norman "Keith" Flowers was sentenced Thursday to two more life prison terms on top of the one he already was serving.

Flowers on June 10 entered an Alford plea for two counts of first-degree murder for the 2005 deaths of 45-year-old Marilee Coote and 24-year-old Rena Gonzales. An Alford plea means Flowers didn't admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors could prove their case against him.

In exchange, prosecutors agreed to stipulate to two consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole. If Flowers had been convicted at trial, prosecutors were going to seek the death penalty.

Flowers, 37, did not say anything before he was sentenced by Judge Doug Smith.

Last month Flowers asked Smith to allow him to withdraw his plea because he said he was pressured into the deal because he believed his attorney, Deputy Special Public Defender Clark Patrick, wouldn't "fight for me at trial."

Patrick told Smith that he only suggested to Flowers that it would put great strain on Flowers' family if he were convicted and sentenced to die. Patrick said he was prepared to go to trial and vigorously defend his client.

Smith denied Flowers' motion.

At Flowers' first trial, Patrick's defense persuaded a jury not to sentence him to death.

The jury gave Flowers a term of life without the possibility of parole after hearing testimony from family members who said he was physically and sexually abused as a child.

Prosecutors have called Flowers a serial killer and rapist for the crimes against the three women.

He was convicted in October 2008 of the sexual assault and murder of Sheila Quarles, 18, the daughter of Flowers' former girlfriend. She died March 24, 2005. His DNA was found in the body.

On May 3, 2005, Coote's body was found in her Russell Road apartment. She had been raped and strangled. Flowers' semen was present, and she had vaginal injuries.

Gonzales' body was discovered eight hours later at the same apartment complex. She had been strangled with a telephone cord.

Flowers, who previously spent 10 years in prison, had been paroled twice and was out of prison for about 20 days when he killed Quarles.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review or 702-380-1039.