Whatever is next for Curtis Flowers, the man responsible for keeping him in prison for more than two decades will not be involved.
Doug Evans, the Mississippi District Attorney who tried and re-tried a quadruple-homicide case against Flowers six times in the last 23 years asked to be recused from prosecuting him again, according to APM Reports. The request was sent in a court filing to Circuit Judge Joey Loper late Monday afternoon.
“I have personally prosecuted the defendant in all six of his prior trials,” Evans wrote. “While I remain confident in both the investigation and jury verdicts in this matter, I have come to the conclusion that my continued involvement will prevent the families from obtaining justice and from the defendant being held responsible for his actions.”
Evans asked that the case be assigned to the Mississippi attorney general’s office.
It’s just the latest development in what has been a prolonged battle between local and state prosecutors and the 49-year-old Flowers, who stands accused of killing four people at a Winona, Miss., furniture store in 1996. Flowers, who is black, has long maintained his innocence, and the case against him only seemed to get shakier as time went on, with Evans relying on circumstantial evidence and witnesses who eventually recanted their testimonies.
Flowers was first convicted for the murders at Tardy Furniture in 1997, a decision that was overturned on appeal due to prosecutorial misconduct. Out of the next five trials, two ended in hung juries, and three more murder convictions were overturned, including Flowers’ latest, which was vacated by the Supreme Court this summer after it found Evans discriminated on the basis of race during jury selection.
“Doug Evans had no business staying on this case, and we are pleased he recused himself,” Flowers’ attorney Rob McDuff, Director of the Mississippi Center for Justice’s Impact Litigation Project, said in a statement. Last month, McDuff successfully argued for Flowers to be set free on bail, citing ever-emerging evidence of Flowers’ innocence, as well as his excellent prison conduct and lack of criminal record.
Flowers’ future now rests in the hands of attorney general-elect Lynn Fitch, a Republican, who ran for the role after the previous attorney general, Democrat Jim Hood, lost his bid for governor. Fitch’s office will decide whether to try Flowers a seventh time, offer him a plea deal, or drop the charges, writes APM Reports.
McDuff said he hopes the attorney general drops the case, calling it a waste of taxpayer money.
“Curtis Flowers is innocent,” he said. “This misguided prosecution has been plagued from the beginning by misconduct and racial discrimination, and it is time to bring it to an end.”