Curtis Flowers, the accused murderer whose six trials have all resulted in either hung juries or vacated convictions, was granted bail on Monday for the first time after more than two decades in prison. If he can post bail, Flowers will be a free man, albeit temporarily while prosecutors determine whether he should be tried for a seventh time.
Flowers’ bail was set at $250,000 — significantly more than the $25,000 amount his defense attorneys had requested. He will have to wear an ankle bracelet while he awaits the prosecutors’ decision.
Flowers was arrested after four people were murdered in 1996 at a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi, where Flowers had previously worked. At the time of his trial, prosecutors alleged that Flowers had shot one of the four victims, the owner of the furniture store, because she had fired him for damaging a pair of batteries, and that he had shot the other three employees to eliminate any possible witnesses. Flowers was convicted, and has spent the past 23 years in prison.
Flowers appealed his conviction in six separate trials, most of which were overturned by the Mississippi state supreme court or resulted in hung juries. His sixth and final trial resulted in Flowers’ conviction being reinstated and his landing on death row.
Yet last June, the Supreme Court overturned the most recent conviction, ruling that District Attorney Doug Evans, who had tried all six of Flowers’ court cases, had acted unconstitutionally by removing African American jurors. (Flowers is African American.) In the majority decision, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote, “Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process,” arguing that Evans had violated Flowers’ constitutional right to a fair trial by ensuring that his case would only be heard by an all-white panel. (Evans is now facing a lawsuit from the NAACP and four black prospective jurors in his district.)
Flowers’ case garnered nationwide attention when it was showcased in the second season of In the Dark, an investigative true crime podcast. The podcast raised serious questions about the case against Flowers, pointing out that the murder weapon found at the scene eventually disappeared and that witnesses who had claimed to have seen Flowers near the store on the day of the murders eventually recanted their statements, claiming they felt pressured by prosecutors.