Prosecutors on Friday dropped murder charges against Curtis Flowers, a Black man who was tried six times for the same killings by a white prosecutor who was found to have pushed to keep Black jurors out of the case.
Mr. Flowers had been accused in the 1996 killings of four people in a furniture store in Winona, Miss. The six previous trials — over more than two decades — ended in mistrials or convictions that were later reversed.
In the most recent trial, Mr. Flowers was convicted and sentenced to death, but his lawyers appealed the conviction to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled last year that the prosecutor, Doug Evans, had unconstitutionally kept Black people from serving on the jury. Over Mr. Flowers’s six trials, 61 of the 72 jurors were white.
“Today, I am finally free from the injustice that left me locked in a box for 23 years,” Mr. Flowers said in a statement.
In the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote that “Equal justice under law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process.” By pursuing a “relentless, determined effort to rid the jury of black individuals,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote, the state wanted to try Mr. Flowers “ideally before an all-white jury.”
Mr. Evans had recused himself from the case in January, and the Mississippi attorney general took over the case. A spokeswoman for Lynn Fitch, the attorney general, confirmed that the charges had been dismissed but said Ms. Fitch would not comment further.
Mr. Flowers was released from custody on bail in December, returning home for the first time in 23 years.
The case drew more attention after it was featured on the podcast “In the Dark,” which cast doubt on some of the prosecutors’ claims.
During the six trials, prosecutors described Mr. Flowers as a disgruntled former employee of the furniture store who was angry because he had been fired. He was arrested several months after the slayings.