In this Monday, Dec. 16, 2019 file photo, Curtis Flowers speaks with reporters as he exits the Winston-Choctaw Regional Correctional Facility in Louisville, Miss. Mississippi’s new attorney general must decide whether to take a quadruple murder case to a seventh trial. Curtis Flowers has had two mistrials and four reversed convictions in connection with the 1996 slayings of four people at a furniture store. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

By AFRO Staff

Curtis Flowers can finally breathe easily.

After 23 years behind bars and six trials on the same murder charges before mostly all-White juries, the 50-year-old is finally out from under a dark cloud after Mississippi prosecutors announced they were dropping charges against him on Sept. 4.

“Today, I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for 23 years,” said Mr. Flowers, who was released from custody on bail late last year, in a statement given via his lawyers and quoted by the New York Times.

Flowers stood accused of the 1996 killings of four persons in the Tardy Furniture store — where he had once been employed — in the small Mississippi town of Winona.

Led by District Attorney Doug Evans, Flowers’ first three trials ended in death sentences, which were overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court. The other two ended in mistrials. His sixth trial in 2010 again saw him headed to death row.

Flowers’ case gained public attention after an investigation by APM Reports’ podcast “In the Dark” determined that his conviction was based on unreliable evidence. 

In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court took up his case and ruled that Evans, the prosecutor, had unconstitutionally prevented African Americans from serving on his juries, essentially attempting to try him “ideally before an all-white jury.”

“Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process,” Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote in the high court’s majority opinion.

Thereafter, Evans recused himself and the Attorney General’s Office took over.

In its motion to dismiss, the AG’s office noted that several of he witnesses in Flowers’ case were either dead, had proven to be untrustworthy or had recanted their testimony.

“As the evidence stands today, there is no key prosecution witness that incriminates Mr. Flowers who is alive and has not had multiple conflicting statements in the record,” the memo read, therefore “it is in the interest of justice that the State will not seek an unprecedented seventh trial of Mr. Flowers.”

“This prosecution was flawed from the beginning and was tainted throughout by racial discrimination,” said Rob McDuff, a lawyer with the Mississippi Center for Justice, who took over Flowers’ defense after the Supreme Court reversed Flowers’ conviction. “It should never have occurred and lasted far too long, but we are glad it is finally over.”