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Man Who Has Had 6 Murder Trials Released on Bail

Curtis Flowers has been behind bars for 22 years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 16, 2019 1:05 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2019 3:33 PM CST
This Aug. 3, 2017 photo provided by Mississippi Department of Corrections shows Curtis Flowers.   (Mississippi Department of Corrections File via AP, File)

(Newser) – A Mississippi man whose murder conviction was overturned by the US Supreme Court for racial bias was granted his freedom for the first time in 22 years Monday while prosecutors decide whether to retry him for a seventh time. A judge set a bond of $250,000 for Curtis Flowers, but told him he would have to wear an electronic monitor while awaiting a decision by the district attorney's office to either try him again or drop the charges, the AP reports. Flowers was convicted four times in connection with a quadruple slaying in the city of Winona in 1996: twice for individual slayings and twice for all four killings. Two other trials involving all four deaths ended in mistrials. Each of the convictions was overturned, but Flowers has remained in jail because the original murder indictment is still active.

During his sixth trial Flowers was sentenced to death; the Supreme Court overturned that conviction in June, finding that prosecutors had shown an unconstitutional pattern of excluding African American jurors in the trials of Flowers, who is black. “This case is unprecedented in the history of the American legal system,” Flowers' attorney Rob McDuff told the judge during Monday's hearing. He said Flowers had spent 23 years in prison “without a lawful conviction to justify his incarceration” and had an “exemplary” record of good behavior in prison. Circuit Judge Joseph Loper said it was "troubling” that prosecutors had not responded to a defense motion to drop the charges against Flowers. McDuff said after the hearing that a person who wanted to remain anonymous was putting up the standard 10% percent, or $250,000, required for Flowers' release. McDuff said Flowers could be freed later Monday.

(Read more Mississippi stories.)

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