New trial sought for US boy executed in 1944

2014-01-21 21:03
George Stinney. (File, AP)

George Stinney. (File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Sumter - A 14-year-old black boy executed nearly 70 years ago is finally getting another day in court, and his lawyers plan to argue on Tuesday for a new trial, saying his conviction was tainted by the segregationist-era justice system and scant evidence.

George Stinney was found guilty in 1944 of killing two white girls, ages 7 and 11. The trial lasted less than a day in the tiny Southern mill town of Alcolu, separated, as most were in those days, by race.

Nearly all the evidence, including a confession that was central to the case against Stinney, has disappeared, along with the transcript of the trial.

Lawyers working on behalf of Stinney's family have gathered new evidence, including sworn statements from his relatives accounting for his whereabouts the day the girls were killed and from a pathologist disputing the autopsy findings.

The novel decision of whether to give someone executed a new trial will be in the hands of Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen. Experts say it is a long shot. South Carolina law has a high bar to grant new trials.

Also, the legal system in the state before segregation often found defendants guilty with evidence that would be considered scant today. If Mullen finds in favour of Stinney, it could open the door for hundreds of other appeals.

But the Stinney case is unique. At 14, he's the youngest person executed in the United States in the past 100 years. Even in 1944, there was an outcry over putting someone so young in the electric chair.

Too small for chair

Newspaper accounts said the straps in the chair didn't fit around his body and an electrode was too big for his leg.

Stinney's supporters said racism, common in the South at that time, meant deputies did little investigation after they decided Stinney was the prime suspect. They said he was pulled from his parents and interrogated without a lawyer.

School board member George Frierson heard stories about Stinney growing up in the same mill town he did, and he has spent a decade fighting to get him exonerated. He swallowed hard as he said he hardly slept on Monday night.

"Somebody that didn't kill someone is finally getting his day in court," Frierson said.

In 1944, Stinney was likely the only black in the courtroom. On Tuesday, the prosecutor arguing against him will be Ernest "Chip" Finney III, the son of South Carolina's first black chief justice.

Finney said last month he won't present any evidence against Stinney at the hearing, but if a new trial is granted, he will ask for time to conduct a new investigation.

What that might find is not known. South Carolina did not have a statewide law enforcement unit to help smaller jurisdictions until 1947. Newspaper stories about Stinney's trial offer little clue whether any evidence was introduced beyond the teen's confession and an autopsy report.

Some people around Alcolu said bloody clothes were taken from Stinney's home, but never introduced at trial because of his confession. No record of those clothes exists.

Relatives of one of the girls killed, 11-year-old Betty Binnicker, have recently spoke out as well, saying Stinney was known around town as a bully who threatened to fight or kill people who came too close to the grass where he grazed the family cow.

It isn't known if the judge will rule on Tuesday, or take time to come to her decision. Stinney's supporters said if the motion for a new trial fails, they will ask the state to pardon him.

- AP

Read more on:    us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
14 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Canon EOS 600D

The Canon EOS 600D Digital Camera puts the widely respected...

From R5389.95

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.