From CBS News:
A 14-year-old South Carolina boy who was quickly convicted of murder and then executed in 1944 has been posthumously exonerated.
Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen vacated George Stinney, Jr.’s conviction on Wednesday, stating that the boy’s prosecution was marked by “fundamental, Consitutional violations of due process.”
According to the judge’s order, Stinney, who was black, was accused of beating two white girls, Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, to death. The girls’ bodies were found in a ditch in rural Alcolu, S.C., on March 24, 1944. One month later, Stinney went on trial for Binnicker’s murder. The trial lasted one day and the all-white, all-male jury deliberated for just 10 minutes before pronouncing the 14-year-old guilty and sentencing him to die by electrocution.
He was executed on June 16, 1944.
Judge Mullen pointed to multiple problems with the prosecution of the case, including the fact that although the prosecution presented evidence that Stinney confessed, there is no written record of a confession. She also concluded that the defense attorney representing the boy called “few or no witnesses” and conducted “little or no cross-examination.”
In January 2014, Stinney’s surviving relatives testified that the boy was at home the day of the murders and could not have committed the crime.
Stinney’s now-77-year-old sister Amie Ruffner told CBS affiliate WLTX in January that the two girls her brother was executed for killing came by their house asking where they could buy flowers and then left. She said she and her brother then went back to tending to the family’s cow.
“(The police) were looking for someone to blame it on, so they used my brother as a scapegoat,” Ruffner told the station.
And pray, once more, for an end to the death penalty.