Embattled prosecutor Doug Evans, who tried Curtis Flowers six times for murder and saw his convictions overturned on appeal, lost his bid to become judge for the 5th Circuit Court to Winona Municipal Court Judge Alan “Devo” Lancaster.
With about 85% of precincts reporting in Tuesday’s runoff, Evans, district attorney for the 5th circuit, received about 30% of the vote and Lancaster won with 70% of the vote, according to unofficial election results.
“I am truly humbled by the overwhelming support I received during the campaign,” Lancaster wrote on his campaign Facebook page Tuesday night. “I want to thank everyone for not only their votes, but the kind words, encouragement, and prayers. I look forward to being your new Circuit Judge for the Fifth Circuit.”
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.
The Circuit Court district includes Attala, Carroll, Choctaw, Montgomery, Grenada, Webster and Winston counties. The winner will succeed Judge George Mitchell, who died in April.
Lancaster and Evans were the top two vote-getters to emerge from a five-way election on Nov. 8. Other candidates in the race were Ackerman attorney Kasey Burney Young, Kosciusko attorney Doug Crosby and Louisville attorney Zachary Madison.
Evans, who has been the district attorney of the district for over 30 years, could have become a judge in the same district where the U.S. Supreme Court said he prevented Black people from serving as jurors, including in Flowers’ case.
Evans first tried Flowers in 1997 for the killings of four people at the Tardy Furniture store in Winona.
He 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.
In September 2020, Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office, which replaced Evans as lead prosecutor in Flowers’ case, 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.