US man, tried six times for murder, freed on bail

Last Updated : 17 December 2019, 06:50 IST

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An African-American man who has been tried six times for a quadruple murder, for which he plead not-guilty, left prison on bail on Monday, ahead of a potential seventh trial.

Curtis Flowers, 49, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010, for the July 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store in Winona, Mississippi, where he had briefly worked until being fired.

The US Supreme Court in June threw out his most recent conviction, saying the exclusion of black jurors was unconstitutional.

The nation's highest court did not examine the guilt or innocence of Flowers, but whether the district attorney deliberately sought to keep black people off the jury.

Pending a decision from local authorities on Flowers' new trial, his lawyer filed an application for probation.

A judge accepted his request on Monday, on the condition that Flowers would wear an electronic bracelet and pay a $250,000 bond, according to a copy of the decision seen by AFP.

Curtis was already tried five times for the crime before his 2010 conviction and had spent nearly half his life behind bars.

Three convictions were thrown out on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct, and two trials ended in a hung jury.

US law forbids someone from being tried twice for the same offense, but since the cases were eventually inconclusive, Flowers was tried again.

Flowers was arrested several months after the murders when two witnesses said that they saw him near the scene of the crime. He maintained his innocence.

His lawyers had argued before the Supreme Court that district attorney Doug Evans, who prosecuted all six cases and is white, rejected potential black jurors in what amounted to racial discrimination.

Liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor said Evans had shown an extraordinary "passion for this case" by putting Flowers repeatedly on trial.

The case gained national prominence after it was the subject of a podcast called "In the Dark" by American Public Media.

Published 17 December 2019, 06:46 IST

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