In 1944, it took 12 white men 10 minutes to convict 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. for beating two young white girls to death. On Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the decision, which sent Stinney to the electric chair on what civil rights advocates have said for years was a coerced confession.
In Alcolu, a small South Carolina town, NBC News reports Stinney confessed to beating two girls, ages 11 and 8, with a railroad spike. He weighed 95 pounds when he was arrested, and was so small he had to sit on a phone book in the electric chair when he was executed within three months of the murders.
Civil rights advocates have pushed for the case to be reopened for years, NBC News reported Wednesday. “He is often cited as the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century,” NBC News reports. According to The Grio, his trial lasted around 3 hours, with no witnesses called to his defense. “No physical evidence or trial transcript exists,” The Grio reports.
NBC News notes that “[i]n a 2009 affidavit, Stinney’s sister said she had been with him on the day of the murders and he could not have committed them.”
From The Grio:
Ray Brown, who’s producing a film called 83 Days based on Stinney’s execution timeline, said he was overwhelmed by Wednesday’s ruling.
“It’s never too late for justice,” Brown said. “There’s no statute of limitations on justice. One of the things I can say about South Carolina and I can give them credit for—is that they got it right this time. During a period of time in our nation where we seem to have such a great racial divide, you have a southern state that has decided to admit they made a mistake and correct it.”