(Washington) US justice dropped the charges against a black man on Friday after trying him six times for the same crime in a case that illustrates to the point of caricature the evils of the United States justice system.
Curtis Flowers spent 23 years in prison for a fourfold murder in a Mississippi town in 1996, of which he has always pleaded not guilty and which earned him six trials.
“I am finally free from the injustice that kept me in a box for 23 years,” he commented in a statement. “The day for which I prayed so much has finally arrived! ”
US law prohibits holding a new trial when an accused has been acquitted. But this was never the case for Curtis Flowers: his first three trials ended with admissions of guilt, before being quashed on appeal for procedural flaws.
The next two did not lead to a verdict, for lack of unanimity among the jurors.
In 2010, during the last trial, he was sentenced to death, but the decision was overturned in 2019 by the United States Supreme Court, on the grounds that black citizens had been voluntarily excluded by the prosecution during the selection of jurors.
In December he was finally released on bail, but the threat of a seventh trial remained.
The same prosecutor, Doug Evans, had kept control of the entire charge. During the hearing before the Supreme Court, one of the magistrates had denounced her “passion” for the case.
In January, he finally agreed to divest himself of it and Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch took it from scratch.
It was she who finally requested the abandonment of the proceedings, which was validated Friday by a judge.
Beyond the racial issue, the Curtis Flowers case illustrates the “lack of control over prosecutors” elected in the US justice system, according to journalist Madeleine Baran, who made the case known to the general public in the podcast “In the Dark”.