ST. PAUL (FOX 9) - The Supreme Court is overturning the conviction of a Mississippi man who’s been in prison for more than two decades. The case wasn't well-known until some Minnesota journalists started digging and what they uncovered may have played a part in attracting the attention of the nation’s highest court.
The investigative team in Saint Paul has spent years working on this story both out of Minnesota and Mississippi. They say they’ve been waiting a long time for the Supreme Court’s decision. But, they say the story isn’t done yet.
"They’re all working really hard, they’re all processing tape," said Samara Freemark.
Freemark is a senior producer for the podcast “In the Dark.” It’s produced by American Public Media, based in St. Paul and for their second season, they headed south.
"We started with this one question -- how could the same man be tried for the same crime six times?"
That man is Curtis Flowers from Winona, Mississippi.
"The case involves a quadruple homicide on the Main Street of this small town," Freemark explains. "Someone walked in and shot four people in the head – no one witnessed the crime."
Flowers has maintained his innocence since the 1996 crime and, initially, there wasn’t a lot of attention to his case. Then the investigative team started digging into it. They discovered concerns about the racial makeup of the juries who heard Flowers’ cases.
"The case before the U.S. Supreme Court right now deals with what the DA, Doug Evans, was doing in jury selection in Curtis Flowers sixth trial," Freemark says. "And the defense was making the argument that Evans was striking black prospective jurors from the jury because they were black -- which you're not allowed to do."
The appeal of that 2010 conviction went all the way up to the Supreme Court and, Friday, the ruling came down. "We’re all sitting there glued to the screen and started yelling -- 'it’s in, it’s in.'"
In a 7 to 2 decision, the Supreme Court justices overturned Flowers conviction, ruling the DA excluded African Americans from the jury on purpose, violating the constitution.
"This is absolutely been the most gratifying, exciting, most impactful story I’ve ever worked on, for sure," Freemark said.
So the question is where does this case stand now? Freemark says the case is in the hands of that district attorney and there's the possibility the DA tries Flowers for the seventh time. No matter what happens, Freemark says her team will continue to track the case.