Suspect in wife’s slaying was notorious eastside drug dealer

jkovac@macon.comFebruary 24, 2014 

Murder_Folo_Flowers

Jasento Lachun Flowers Sr., shown in this 2014 jail photo, is wanted by the Bibb County Sheriff's Office on charges of murder and two charges of aggravated assault in connection with the shooting death of his wife Bridgette Flowers Saturday February 22, 2014 on Maynard Street in Macon.

The criminal life of murder suspect Jasento Flowers began half a lifetime ago, and it may have ended for good Saturday night, all within a single square mile of east Macon.

Two decades before he became a wanted man in the weekend shooting death of his estranged wife, Flowers, now 43, was the brains behind a Fort Hill drug ring that reigned in one of the city’s most notorious crack tracts.

In the early 1990s, the squat, red-brick duplexes that still span the block between Cochran and Hawkinsville avenues were a haven for eastside junkies.

So there in an apartment five blocks south of Shurling Drive, Flowers and his brothers set up shop.

The police did, too. Their unmarked cars cruised through at all hours. They conducted undercover buys. Sometimes business was so good -- 30, 40 customers in a few hours -- the drug agents ran out of dope.

Eventually, the cops zeroed in on the Flowers brothers.

In an October 1991 raid at the Flowers’ apartment, police seized 43 rocks of crack cocaine. They found it stashed in a diaper being worn by a 1-year-old, the child of Flowers’ girlfriend.

The bust became the stuff of Macon police lore.

“He was on our radar a long time,” former Macon vice cop Carlos Ortiz said of Flowers on Monday.

After the raid, Ortiz said he and Flowers “didn’t have kind words with each other. ... If I needed the last glass of water to live, he wouldn’t give it to me.”

At trial, where Flowers, then 21, was convicted of selling cocaine and sentenced to life with parole, prosecutor Vern Beinke said Flowers and his brothers were “a crime family,” Flowers their leader.

They were described by Beinke as “extremely aggressive” street dealers who were “well on their way to forming a monopoly. ... They were moving a lot of cocaine.”

Flowers’ brother Henry, 31 at the time and a repeat offender, was sentenced to life without parole for his hand in the operation. Another brother, Edward, pleaded guilty to lesser charges and got a brief prison term and five years of probation. Flowers’ girlfriend, Mary Alice Moore, received a similar sentence.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge Tommy Day Wilcox told Flowers, “Two of your brothers and the mother of your child are all going to prison because of your operation. ... A life sentence would be appropriate even it if it were not required.”

‘There go Sento’

Flowers was released from prison in August 2001.

He has no other known prison history and, at least until recently, no record of violence, though he was named a suspect in the 1990 shotgun shooting of man on Fifth Street in downtown.

At the time, police said Flowers rode up in a white pickup truck and fired into a group of men standing on a corner. The wounded man was shot in his thigh.

Earlier this month on Valentine’s Day, Flowers was jailed for allegedly slugging his estranged wife, Bridgette Flowers, at the Gray Highway Wal-Mart.

Her daughter, Jamesia Williams, said she and her mother were having a key made when Williams spotted Flowers, a Bibb sheriff’s report said.

“Ma, there go Sento,” Williams said, referring to Flowers by his nickname.

When Bridgette Flowers, 38, turned to look, her estranged husband punched her in the face and knocked her out, an incident report noted.

When she came to, she told a deputy that Jasento Flowers had threatened her the day before, saying he would kill her and then kill himself, the report said. She told him she “didn’t want anything more to do with him and for him to go his way and she would go hers.”

When deputies went to arrest Flowers on a battery charge at his house on Trinity Place in east Macon, Flowers resisted arrest, according to a report. He pulled away, fought and hit a deputy in the mouth, said, prompting a deputy to tase him.

While at the house on Trinity, deputies noticed “several vehicles” in the backyard, one they thought might be stolen, a report noted. But the vehicle ID number on one of the cars, a Honda, had been scratched off.

It wasn’t clear how long Flowers stayed in jail.

But eight days later his estranged wife would die.

‘It’s a tragedy’

The shooting started about 10 p.m. Saturday.

According to a sheriff’s report, Bridgette Flowers had dropped someone off on Trinity Place, not far from Jasento Flowers’ house, where she, too, had once lived.

Trinity, a side street across Emery Highway from the entrance to the Indian Mounds, lies maybe a quarter-mile southeast of the Cochran Avenue duplexes where Jasento Flowers earned his prison stripes.

Before his estranged wife could drive off in her white Chrysler minivan, Flowers, according to an incident report, “walked up to the vehicle and asked was there a problem. That’s when Jasento took out a handgun (and) started shooting at the vehicle.”

A woman in the van, Tierra Moore, snatched it into gear and they rode off with Jasento Flowers still shooting, the report said.

They drove to Bridgette Flowers’ residence at 537 Maynard St., just south of historic Fort Hawkins, barely half a mile away.

Soon after the minivan wheeled onto some grass in front of the house, Jasento Flowers pulled up in a decade-old, black BMW 740i “and started shooting from the car,” a report said.

By the time help arrived, he was gone and Bridgette Flowers lay slumped over the minivan’s steering wheel. She was dead, shot in the head.

Her daughter Jamesia, 18, was shot in the leg, while 19-year-old Onterio Smith, who’d been sitting on a nearby porch, was grazed on his left calf.

The BMW that Jasento Flowers was said to be driving turned up at a relative’s house in Dooly County on Sunday.

Early that morning, his son, Jasento Flowers Jr., 21, was arrested in Macon for allegedly trying to remove evidence from the shooting scene on Trinity Place.

As of Monday evening, the senior Flowers hadn’t been caught.

According to records, he has ties to Dry Branch, Warner Robins and Jacksonville, Fla.

Ortiz, the former vice cop who helped convict him in 1992, said he’d be curious to learn what the elder Flowers had been doing to make ends meet.

“Those kinds of guys don’t get white-collar jobs,” said Ortiz, now director of the police academy at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

“It’s a tragedy that someone died and two other people were shot. But when I saw who (the suspect) was, I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Contact writer Joe Kovac Jr. at 744-4397.

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