Thursday, December 18, 2014

George Stinney Jr: Black 14-Year-Old Executed By Electric Chair in 1944 Finally Exonerated

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14 year old George Stinney Jnr. was executed in South Carolina United States for allegedly beating two young white girls to death, but yesterday Wednesday Dec 17th, 70 years after his death, a judge threw out the original murder conviction.

When George was executed in 1944, he was so small he had to seat on a phone book in the electric chair. He's officially the youngest person to be executed in the U.S. in the 20th century.

George was found guilty of beating the girls, 11 and 8 years old with a railroad spike. His trial lasted only three hours and it took the a jury of all white people just 10 minutes to find him guilty - this was just 3 months after the girls were found murdered.

George was arrested after he confessed to the crime, but his older sister always maintained that George was coerced into confessing and couldn't have committed the murder because he was with her the day of the murder.

Civil rights advocates have been trying for years to clear George Stinney Jr's name. They managed to get the case reopened and yesterday morning, Judge Carmen Mullins tossed the murder conviction. The judge ruled he was denied due process.

In her ruling, Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen wrote that she found that,

"fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr., and hereby vacates the judgment."

Stinney's sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, 80, tells local newspaper The Manning Times;

"I think it's long overdue. I'm just thrilled because it's overdue."

The case was brought by Stinney Robinson and two of her surviving siblings. Hansi Lo Wang reports for NPR.

"It took less than a day for a jury to convict George Stinney Jr. and send him to the electric chair. He was convicted of the deaths of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames in deeply segregated Alcolu, S.C."

Matt Burgess, an attorney for the Stinney family, tells Hansi,

"There were no African-American people in that courthouse. It was a jury of 12 white men. Everyone in that courthouse was white."

According to NPR, Stinney's family has maintained he was innocent, insisting that he was too small to carry out such a crime and too naive to handle the pressure put on him by law enforcement officials.

George Stinney Jr. appears in an undated police booking photo provided by the South Carolina Department of Archives and History. A South Carolina judge vacated the conviction of the 14-year-old, who was executed in 1944, saying he didn't receive a fair trial. Landov

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