After wrongfully spending more than two decades behind bars, Curtis Flowers will be receiving $500,000 from the state of Mississippi. The state’s 5th Circuit Judge George Mitchell made the ruling on Tuesday (March 2), giving Flowers the maximum compensation allotted by the state.
According to a report by USA Today, Flowers was wrongfully convicted in 1996 of the murders of four people at a furniture store where he’d been employed up until two weeks before the murders took place. Though the limited evidence available at the time may have pointed to multiple people having committed the murders, Flowers was the only one arrested for the crimes.
In 1997, Flowers was sentenced and a staggering five other trials were held after prosecutorial misconduct led the state Supreme Court to overturn the first three trials. The fourth and fifth trials ended in mistrials and, in 2010, at his sixth trial, Flowers was convicted again. In 2019, a local branch of the NAACP sued the prosecutor on the case District Attorney Doug Evans and others for discriminatory practices. The US Supreme Court overturned Flowers’ 2010 conviction that same year, after justices found that Evans worked strategically to not have Black people to serve as jurors in the trials.
Last year, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch announced the state wouldn’t try the case a seventh time, granting Flowers his freedom.
Mississippi state law says that compensates anyone who’s wrongfully convicted of a crime up to $50,000 per year they were imprisoned, up to $500,000. Flowers will receive annual payment of $50,000 over the next decade.
“I’m living every day to the fullest now and hoping that everything works out,” Flowers told APM Reports. “I’m happy. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m doing everything I can to make sure it’s a good one.”
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