A judge ordered the state of Mississippi to pay $500,000 to a man wrongfully imprisoned for nearly a quarter-century. The order included a $50,000 payment to Curtis Flowers’ attorneys.
Flowers was tried six times in a 1996 quadruple murder case. After spending years on Death Row, Flowers was released in December 2019 after U.S. Supreme Court ruled the district attorney had excluded Black jurors from the trials. The following November, Flowers sued the state for wrongful imprisonment.
On March 2, 2021, Mississippi Circuit Judge George Mitchell ordered the state to compensate Flowers. The Mississippi Attorney General’s Office did not oppose the judgment.
In 2020, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced the state would not try Flowers a seventh time. The state noted that it would be almost impossible to try him again. There were no living witnesses who had not recanted their testimony or made “multiple” conflicting statements. He was finally free.
The half-million-dollar award is the most Flowers, now 50, could receive under state law. Mississippi statutes allow up to $50,000 per year for wrongful imprisonment, but there is a 10-year limit. That means he is being compensated for less than half of the time he was wrongfully imprisoned. In many states, compensation under the same circumstances might prove more than triple that amount.
Most of the 23 years Flowers spent behind bars were at the state’s notorious Parchman prison.
Six Trials, Four Convictions
Flowers was tried six times for the murders of four employees at Tardy Furniture Store in Winona. The victims ranged in age from 59 to 16. All were shot in the head.
He was convicted in four of those trials and sentenced to death. Two of the convictions were for the individual murders, and two were for all four killings.
These convictions were overturned on appeal because of prosecutorial misconduct. Trials four and five resulted in hung juries. Flowers was again convicted at his sixth trial in 2010.
Flowers had been employed at the furniture store up until two weeks prior to the killings. He had no previous criminal record. The gun used in the murders was never found. A gun that may have been involved in the killings was turned over to police, but this potentially critical piece of evidence disappeared.
Flower’s defense attorney argued that there were witness statements and the physical evidence was too weak to convict their client.
Two cellmates in the jail in which Flowers was initially held said he confessed to them that he committed the murders and robbed the store. American Public Media’s In the Dark podcast recorded the jailhouse informant’s admission that Flowers had not confessed to him in both 2017 and 2018.
NAACP Sues Prosecutor
In November 2019, the NAACP sued the prosecutor, Doug Evans, who tried Flowers six times in federal court. The lawsuit claimed racial discrimination in jury selection. In the 225 criminal trials prosecuted while Evans was in office between 1992 and 2017, Black people were blocked from serving on juries four times more often than whites.
Inmates have the right not to be abused or wrongfully imprisoned. If you or a loved one has suffered mistreatment in jail or prison, you have legal options and may be entitled to compensation. CALL US at 866.836.4684 or Connect Online to learn how we can help you file a federal civil rights lawsuit.