US prosecutors dropped charges Friday against a black man who was tried six times and spent more than 20 years in prison for the same murders.
Curtis Flowers served 23 years for a quadruple murder committed in Mississippi in 1996. He has always maintained his innocence.
The prosecutor in all six trials was ultimately accused last year by the US Supreme Court of trying hard to keep black people off the jury and eventually resigned from the case.
The fatal shooting occurred at Tardy Furniture and the victims were store owner Bertha Tardy, 59, and three employees, Carmen Rigby, 45, Derrick ‘BoBo’ Stewart, 16, and Robert Golden, 42.
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Prosecutors in the six trials alleged that Flowers, a former Tardy employee, had stolen a .380-caliber pistol and shot the victims execution-style.
Flowers was alleged to have killed Tardy as payback for docking in pay over damaged batteries and firing him, killing the other three people to get rid of witnesses, CNN reported.
Flowers was sentenced to death four times in the case.
Each of the convictions and death sentences in the first three trials was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court for prosecutorial misconduct. The next two ended in hung juries.
In 2010 Flowers was convicted a final time and sentenced to death.
But this decision was overturned in 2019 by the US Supreme Court because of what it called a prosecutor’s ‘relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals.’
That prosecutor, Doug Evans, had been on the case from the outset.
Evans was ultimately accused last year by the US Supreme Court of trying hard to keep black people off the jury and eventually resigned from the case.
In January, he agreed to step down from the case and the state attorney general Lynn Fitch started the proceedings from scratch.
She asked that the case be thrown out, and a judge agreed.
Flowers had been released on bail in December 2019, although another trial was still possible.
On Friday, however, Mississippi´s attorney general dismissed the charges against Flowers.
Now, because a judge dismissed Flowers’ capital case with prejudice, he cannot be retried for the murders.
Following the dismissal, Flowers said in a statement: ‘I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for 23 years,’ adding ‘The day I’ve prayed for is here at last.’