The saddest part is that I’m not 100 percent certain that something like this could never happen again today. Raw Story writes:
Over 67 years after 14-year-old George Junius Stinney Jr. was put to death by the state of South Carolina, he may soon be cleared of the crime that people familiar with the case say he never could have committed.
A lawyer and an activist both told Raw Story recently that new evidence will show that the black boy could not have possibly murdered two white girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and seven-year-old Mary Emma Thames.
Stinney, the youngest person to receive the death penalty in the last 100 years, was executed on June 16, 1944. At five feet one inch and only 95 pounds, the straps of the electric chair did not fit the boy. His feet could not touch the floor. As he was hit with the first 2,400-volt surge of electricity, the mask covering his face slipped off, “revealing his wide-open, tearful eyes and saliva coming from his mouth.”
Less than three months earlier, Stinney, who had no previous history of violence, had been accused of the crime after he admitted speaking to the girls when they stopped by a field in Alcolu where he was grazing his cow to ask where they could find maypops, a type of flower. Authorities alleged Stinney had used a railroad spike to shatter both of the girls’ heads. The boy was taken into a room with several white officers and within an hour, they said he had confessed. Because there were no Miranda rights in 1944, Stinney was questioned without a lawyer and his parents were not allowed into the room.
No written confession exists, only a few handwritten notes a deputy who was present during the interrogation. They claimed that Stinney had said he killed Mary Emma because he wanted to have sex with Betty June. When Betty June resisted his advances, authorities said, he murdered her too. Reports said that the officers had offered the boy ice cream for confessing to the crimes.
A mob of about 40 angry white men showed up at the jail, demanding to lynch Stinney, but he had already been moved about 50 miles away to Columbia. Even though Stinney’s father had helped search for the girls when they went missing, he was fired and forced to leave the home provided by Alderman’s Lumber Mill where he worked.
The trial was over two hours after it began. A jury of twelve white men deliberated for 10 minutes before convicting Stinney. Plowden later told the judge that there was nothing to appeal, and the Stinney family could not afford to continue the case. A one-sentence notice of appeal would have automatically stayed the case for a year.
Attorney Steve McKenzie told Raw Story that he has no doubt this case was an injustice. McKenzie said that the lack of preserved evidence made clearing Stinney’s name difficult, but he hoped that the affidavits of three new witnesses, one of which could provide an alibi, would be enough to re-open the case.
Read the rest at Raw Story
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