It has been more than three months since the U.S. Supreme Court slammed Mississippi District Attorney Doug Evans for his prejudicial handling of the serial prosecution of Curtis Flowers.
It was expected — even his wife told a reporter that she anticipated this — that Evans would recuse himself and let someone else decide whether a possibly unprecedented seventh trial is in order.
Yet Evans has not done so. What is he waiting for?
If the district attorney is convinced, as he says, that Flowers is guilty of the quadruple homicide in 1996 at the former Tardy Furniture store in Winona, Evans is only making it less likely that a conviction will stick if he stays associated with the case.
Evans’ role in prosecuting this horrible crime over the past two decades is beyond repair. In the four trials in which a guilty verdict was rendered, all have been thrown out on appeal, mostly due to what state and federal courts have said was prosecutorial misconduct in trying to keep blacks off the jury.
Recently, Flowers was moved from Parchman’s death row to the jail in Grenada County, before being transferred to the jail in Winston County. His lawyer is arguing that Flowers is entitled to bail and, more significantly, that the presiding judge should throw out the charges in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Getting bail is probably more likely than having the charges dismissed.
Maybe one more trial is in order, as long as Evans has nothing to do with it. Although it’s been documented that some of the evidence against Flowers was tainted and possibly coerced, there remains some incriminating circumstantial evidence against him, including being seen in the vicinity of the crime on the morning of the murders and a believable motive for committing them.
A fresh set of prosecutorial eyes needs to be asked to examine the evidence and decide whether there is really enough to proceed. Evans has too much pride invested in this case to make that determination objectively.
He needs to step aside, either requesting that the Attorney General’s Office or a district attorney from another jurisdiction take over. And he should do so without further delay.
The original version of this editorial failed to report that Curtis Flowers has been moved from the jail in Grenada County to one in Winston County.