September 20, 2020

Mississippi man tried six times for murders will be granted bail after 22 years in prison

A Mississippi man tried six times in the same quadruple murder case will be allowed to post bail and leave custody for the first time in 22 years.

During a hearing Monday, a judge granted a bond request made by attorneys for 49-year-old Curtis Flowers. The judge set bond at $250,000. A prosecutor has not said whether he will try Flowers for a seventh time on the same charges.

Four people were shot to death in July 1996 in the Tardy Furniture store in the north Mississippi town of Winona. Flowers has had four convictions overturned. He has been in custody since 1997.

Circuit Judge Joseph Loper said Flowers would have to wear an electronic monitor. He said it was “troubling” that prosecutors have not responded to the defense motion to drop the charges against Flowers.

He said if prosecutors do not respond, “the state will reap the whirlwind” from him.

Supporters of Flowers hugged in the courtroom after court was dismissed.

During the sixth trial in 2010, Flowers was sentenced to death. The U.S. 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.

After the Supreme Court ruling, Flowers was moved off death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman and taken to a regional jail in the central Mississippi town of Louisville.

Flower’s attorney Rob McDuff has argued that Mississippi law requires bail after two capital murder mistrials. McDuff asked Circuit Judge Joseph Loper on Monday to set bail and allow Flowers to be released from custody for the first time in 22 years.

“This case is unprecedented in the history of the American legal system,” McDuff told the judge. He said Flowers has spent 23 years in prison “without a lawful conviction to justify his incarceration” and he has an “exemplary” record of good behavior in prison.