The youngest person to be sent to the electric chair in the 20th century has been exonerated – 70 years after his death.
George Stinney Jr. was only 14-years-old when he was executed for the beating deaths of two white girls in 1944. He was black and lived in the segregated town of Alcolu, South Carolina when he was arrested and convicted in a one-day trial. The whole process lasted only about three months.
But on Wednesday, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen threw out his conviction, writing in her 29-page order that she “can think of no greater injustice,” on the part of the state, adding “Given the particularized circumstances of Stinney’s case, I find by a preponderance of the evidence standard, that a violation of the Defendant’s procedural due process rights tainted his prosecution.”
When the youngster was convicted, it was in the absence of any physical evidence linking him to the case. No witnesses were called in his support and there was no appeal. He was arrested from home while he was all alone and was subsequently kept away from his parents and family. And although he later confessed, his supporters believe it was out of fear as “he was a small, frail boy so scared that he said whatever he thought would make the authorities happy,” according to Huffington Post UK/ AP.
The AP reported “The case received renewed attention because of a crusade by textile inspector and school board member George Frierson. Armed with a binder full of newspaper articles and other evidence, he and a law firm believed the teen represented everything that was wrong with South Carolina during the era of segregation.”
The publication also notes, “Stinney’s case has long been whispered in civil rights circles in South Carolina as an example of how a black person could be railroaded by a justice system during the Jim Crow era where the investigators, prosecutors and juries were all white.”
Now, all these years later his family has some peace in finally putting all this to rest and having some form, however delayed, of justice served.
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