A man who was wrongfully imprisoned for almost 23 years will be awarded $500,000 by the state of Mississippi in compensation for his time behind bars.
Curtis Flowers was arrested in January 1997 for the murders of four people at a furniture store in Winona. He was in prison until his release in December 2019.
He spent most of that time on death row at Parchman prison.
But on Tuesday, Mississippi 5th Circuit Judge George Mitchell ordered the state to pay Flowers $50,000 each year for 10 years. He will also receive an additional $50,000 for attorneys’ fees.
The sum of money is the maximum amount allowed under state laws.
Speaking to American Public Media Reports, Flowers said: “I feel good. I believe it should have been more, but I feel good.”
Rob McDuff, Flowers’ lawyer from the Mississippi Centre for Justice, told the news outlet, “As we have learned more about this case in recent years, it is now widely acknowledged that Curtis Flowers did not commit this crime. He clearly qualified for compensation under this law. It is no surprise that the Attorney General’s office has acknowledged this. Five hundred thousand dollars is not nearly enough money. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s allowed.”
Flowers has been brought to trial six times for the killings of Bertha Tardy, 59, Robert Golden, 42, Carmen Rigby, 45, and Derrick Stewart, 16, at Tardy Furniture Store. Flowers had been employed at the store until two weeks before the murders.
Two of the trials ended in hung juries. The other four ended in conviction and death sentences – all of which were overturned.
But even when his sentences were overturned, Flowers was still kept locked up while waiting for new trials.
His appeals eventually ended up in the US Supreme Court, which voted that District Attorney Doug Evans, who brought all the trials against Flowers, had purposefully excluded black jurors, which denied Flowers a fair trial.
At the time, Evans excused himself from Flowers’ case ahead of any potential future trials, with a court document stating, “I have personally prosecuted the defendant in all six of his prior trials. 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.”
“I’m living every day to the fullest now and hoping that everything works out. 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,” Flowers said.