Prosecutors have dropped their case against Curtis Flowers, a Black man who has been tried six times for the shooting and killing of four people in a furniture store in 1996 and spent 23 years in prison — most of it on death row — for the crime.
Flowers was released from prison on bail last year after the US Supreme Court reversed his latest conviction. His case drew media attention after the popular podcast In the Dark featured Flowers' case and his six trials for the same crime.
"This is a monumental victory," Vangela M. Wade, president of the Mississippi Center for Justice, said in a statement. The center helped litigate Flowers' case, free him on bail, and dismiss the charges. "Today the burden of further injustice has been lifted from Mr. Flowers, but fair treatment in our criminal justice system should never require extraordinary resources behind this long-delayed outcome."
Flowers maintained he was innocent during six trials, which included four convictions that were overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct. The two other cases resulted in hung juries.
The Clarion Ledger reported his most recent conviction in 2010 was overturned in June 2019 after a court found that District Attorney Doug Evans had deliberately worked to keep Black jurors from serving on the jury.
Flowers was freed from prison in December after his attorneys filed a motion for bail and asked for his charges to be dismissed and the prosecutor to recuse himself from the case.
The judge at the time of the bail hearing noted reporting that was featured in the podcast In the Dark, including two state witnesses who said they lied during the Flowers' trial. The judge also noted the possibility of evidence that pointed to another possible suspect in the killings.
Evans withdrew in January from the case and the Mississippi Attorney General's office was appointed to prosecute the case instead.
The Mississippi Center of Justice said in a statement that the Attorney General's office conducted a monthslong review of the case, then filed a motion to dismiss the charges against Flowers.
"Today I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for nearly 23 years," Flowers told the Clarion-Ledger in a statement. "I've been asked if I ever thought this day would come. I have been blessed with a family that never gave up on me and with them by my side, I knew it would."