Curtis Flowers is finally a free man.
Prosecutors in Mississippi dropped murder charges against Flowers on Friday, ending a more than two-decade-long ordeal that began when he was charged in 1996 for the murders of four people at a furniture store in Winona, Miss. – murders he consistently maintained he didn’t commit. Still, Flowers, a Black man, would be tried six times for the same murders by a white prosecutor, even though his trials always ended in mistrial or his convictions were later overturned, according to The New York Times.
In his latest trial, Flowers was convicted and sentenced to die. On appeal last year, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Prosecutor Doug Evans violated the U.S. Constitution by keeping Black jurors away from Flowers’ trials. Over the course of Flowers’s six trials, 61 of the 72 jurors were white, The Times reported.
“Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in the top court’s majority opinion, adding that by continuing to pursue a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals,” what Mississippi really wanted to do was to try Flowers “ideally before an all-white jury.”
In January, Evans recused himself from the case, leaving the Mississippi attorney general to take over. On Friday, Lynn Fitch, a spokeswoman for the attorney general, confirmed that all charges had been dropped against Flowers.
In a statement, Flowers said: “Today, I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for 23 years.”
Flowers spent 23 years wrongfully imprisoned, but was released on bail in December, following the Supreme Court’s ruling. Prosecutors previously attempted to frame Flowers as an ex-employee who was angry about being fired from the furniture store and out for revenge.