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72 years later in 1944 Execution of 14 Year-Old Boy Was Wrong

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14 year old George Stinney Executed 

UPDATE Dec. 19, 2014 George Stinney was *cleared* in a court of law (70 years too late) George Junius Stinney Jr. was, at age 14, the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century (1944) The boy was small for his age (5’1) so small, they had to stack books on the electric chair. The photos at the end are George. (compare little George in this actual photo to the two white guys wearing hats )

S.C. Judge Says 1944 Execution Of 14-Year-Old Boy Was Wrong

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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.

George Stinney, 14, Executed In Vile Act Of Injustice, Exonerated 72’s Years Late

“Calling it a “great and fundamental injustice,” a South Carolina judge on Wednesday vacated the 1944 murder conviction of 14-year-old George J. Stinney Jr., the youngest person executed in the United States in the last century. Judge Carmen T. Mullen of Circuit Court did not rule that the conviction of Mr. Stinney for the murder of two white girls in the town of Alcolu was wrong on the merits. She did find, however, that the prosecution had failed in numerous ways to safeguard the constitutional rights of Mr. Stinney, who was black, from the time he was taken into custody until his death by electrocution. The all-white jury could not be considered a jury of the teenager’s peers, Judge Mullen ruled, and his court-appointed attorney did “little to nothing” to defend him. His confession was most likely coerced and unreliable, she added, “due to the power differential between his position as a 14-year-old black male apprehended and questioned by white, uniformed law enforcement in a small, segregated mill town in South Carolina.””* The Young Turks hosts Cenk Uygur breaks it down. *Read more here:…

An African-American boy, George Stinney Jr., who was executed at age 14 in the killing of two young white girls has been exonerated in South Carolina, 70 years after he became the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 1900’s. A judge ruled he was denied due process.

“I think it’s long overdue,” Stinney’s sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, 80, tells local newspaper The Manning Times. “I’m just thrilled because it’s overdue.”

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.”

The case was brought by Stinney Robinson and two of her surviving siblings.

“It took less than a day for a jury to convict George Stinney Jr. and send him to the electric chair,” NPR’S Hansi Lo Wang reports. “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.”

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.

Bolstered by a key ally in local historian and school board member George Frierson, family members have insisted that they didn’t want Stinney to be pardoned for a crime they believed he didn’t commit.

George Stinney Jr. was executed less than three months after the two girls were murdered. His trial lasted just one day. After the jury needed less than 10 minutes to declare him guilty, no appeals were filed on his behalf.

“His executioners noted the electric chair straps didn’t fit him, and an electrode was too big for his leg,” The State newspaper reports. The paper adds, “It took Mullen nearly four times as long to issue her ruling as it took in 1944 to go from arrest to execution.”

The Manning Times notes that in her decision, Mullen granted a “writ of coram nobis, a rare legal doctrine held over from English law that ‘corrects errors of fact’ when no other remedy is available to the applicant.”

Back in 2004, NPR marked the 60th anniversary of Stinney’s death with a Sound Portrait featuring interviews with his sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, and Lorraine Bailey, the sister of Betty June Binnicker. To read more go to the link below:

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