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Mississippi To Pay $500,000 To Innocent Man Who Spent 23 Years In Prison

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Mississippi To Pay $500,000 To Innocent Man Who Spent 23 Years In Prison

A man wrongfully imprisoned for almost 23 years is to be awarded $500,000 by the state of Mississippi in compensation.

Curtis Flowers was arrested in January 1997 for the murders of four people at a furniture store in Winona, from that day he remained incarcerated until his release in December 2019.

He spent most of that time on death row at Parchman prison.

Credit: Mississippi Department of Corrections
Credit: Mississippi Department of Corrections
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On Tuesday, Mississippi 5th Circuit Judge George Mitchell judge ordered the state to pay $50,000 each year for 10 years, with an additional $50,000 for attorneys' fees.

The sum is the maximum 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."

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Flowers' lawyer Rob McDuff 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 was brought to trial six times over the killings of Bertha Tardy, 59, Robert Golden, 42, Carmen Rigby, 45, and Derrick Stewart, 16, at Tardy Furniture Store, where he had been employed until around two weeks prior.

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Two of these trials ended in hung juries, while four ended in conviction and death sentences - all of which were overturned.

But even when his sentences had been overturned, Flowers was still kept locked up while waiting for fresh trials.

Credit: CBS
Credit: CBS

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 and thus denied Flowers a fair trial.

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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."

Speaking about how it feels to finally be free, Flowers added: "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."

Featured Image Credit: CBS

Topics: US News

Claire Reid
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