He's had six murder trials, spent nearly two dozen years behind bars, and been sentenced to death four times. Now, Curtis Flowers is officially free. The Black man from Mississippi was released on bail in December—after the US Supreme Court overturned his most recent conviction involving a 1996 quadruple murder at a Winona furniture store—as it was decided to drop the charges against him or bring him to yet another trial. On Friday, it was announced the former had been chosen, with prosecutors noting a lack of witnesses, AFP and USA Today report. "It is in the interest of justice that the State will not seek an unprecedented seventh trial of Mr. Flowers," prosecutors from the Mississippi attorney general's office said in a memo, per the New York Times.
Until January, the same prosecutor, Doug Evans, had attended to Flowers' case through all six trials. Evans was accused of keeping Black jurors from serving—out of the 72 jurors in total who'd heard Flowers' case, 61 of them were white. In the US Supreme Court's decision last year, the justices found Evans had improperly kept Black jurors away. Flowers' first three convictions, which came with death sentences, were overturned by the state's Supreme Court, which cited misconduct on the part of the prosecution. The next two trials ended in hung juries, with the final conviction and death sentence handed down in 2010. Evans recused himself from the case earlier this year. Flowers, meanwhile, has always maintained his innocence. "I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for 23 years," Flowers, 50, says in a statement on the charges finally being dropped. (Read more Mississippi stories.)