Justice received posthumously is no justice at all. But maybe it’s better than nothing?
A South Carolina judge on Wednesday took the unusual step of vacating the 1944 conviction of a black 14-year-old boy, the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century, saying he did not receive a fair trial in the murders of two white girls.
George Stinney Jr. was convicted by an all-white jury after a one-day trial and a 10-minute jury deliberation during a time when racial segregation prevailed in much of the United States. Stinney died in the electric chair less than three months after the killings of Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7.
In her ruling, Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen said she was not overturning the case on its merits, which scant records made nearly impossible to relitigate, but on the failure of the court to grant Stinney a fair trial. She said few or no defense witnesses testified and that it was “highly likely” that Stinney’s confession to white police officers was coerced.
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