Longtime prosecutor Doug Evans, known for trying Curtis Flowers six times for murder with convictions that were later overturned, is headed for a Nov. 29 runoff for a circuit court judge seat.
Evans earned the second-most votes Tuesday in five-person election and will face top vote-getter Winona Municipal Court Judge Alan “Devo” Lancaster because neither candidate garnered 50% of the vote.
The 5th Circuit Court district includes Attala, Carroll, Choctaw, Montgomery, Grenada, Webster and Winston counties. The winner will succeed Judge George Mitchell, who died in April.
As a circuit court judge, Evans could hear criminal cases in the same district where the U.S. Supreme Court said he prevented Black people from serving as jurors, including in Flowers’ case.
Evans, who has been the district attorney of the district for over 30 years, first tried Flowers in 1997 for the killings of four people at the Tardy Furniture store in Winona.
Evans secured four death penalty convictions for Flowers, but those were overturned by state and federal courts. In two trials, a jury didn’t reach a unanimous verdict.
The U.S Supreme Court overturned Flowers’ conviction in 2019, ruling Evans barred Black jurors in the case.
Evans recused himself after the Mississippi Center for Justice, which represented Flowers, asked for him to be removed from the case. Attorney General Lynn Fitch was appointed as the lead prosecutor.
In September 2020, Fitch’s office dropped charges against Flowers after he spent 23 years in prison, most of it on death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.
In 2021, Flowers sued Evans in federal court for misconduct, which Evans has denied. U.S. District Court Judge Neal Biggers Jr. ordered the case stayed until May 1, 2023.
Other candidates in the 5th District Circuit Court race were Ackerman attorney Kasey Burney Young, Kosciusko attorney Doug Crosby and Louisville attorney Zachary Madison.
Lancaster is a partner at the Lancaster Taylor Law Firm in Winona. He has been a municipal judge in Winona since 2010 and attorney for Montgomery County Economic Development since 1986.
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