Brooklyn, New York – Charles Stinney said he was never really as social as his older brother George.
And he was amazed at how quickly George always finished his school work.
“It was such a short time [we had together],” Stinney told theGrio’s Todd Johnson in an interview at his Brooklyn home.
Charles is the brother George Junius Stinney, Jr., the youngest person executed in the U.S. during the twentieth century. George Stinney was convicted of killing two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944. He was just 14 at the time of his execution.
The details surrounding his conviction and subsequent execution aren’t pretty: No written confession exists, no witnesses were called on Stinney’s behalf and a jury took some ten minutes to convict the young boy and sentence him to die.
The two girls, 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and seven-year-old Mary Emma Thames, had crossed paths with George and his sister Amie Ruffner the day the two girls would eventually go missing. Binnicker and Thames’ bodies were later found in a ditch the following morning.
“Everybody knew that he done—even before they had the trial they knew he done it,” Lorraine Bailey said in a radio interview in June, 2004. (at the date of the interview, she was the only living sibling of Betty June Binnicker, one of the girls George Stinney was convicted of killing.)
To this day, Charles Stinney and other members of his family still believe in George’s innocence. “Before you take someone’s life, you should make sure, [you] have two or three witnesses, not just one witness, but two or three witnesses and some evidence or something to make sure [...]” Stinney said. “[Because] you’re taking somebody’s life like that, you can’t bring [them] back.”
Charles, who is 79 and now pastor at Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Brooklyn, said he can still remember how George would play with all of the kids nearby and sing songs.
“[Yes] we were very close,” Stinney said of the two’s relationship. “Because one time, we almost looked like twins [because] we [were about] the same size at the time.”
His mother was the only member of his family to see George before he was executed.
Charles said he is aware of efforts to clear his brother’s name by South Carolina activists and attorneys, but still has mixed feelings about re-opening the case.
”[George] already paid with his life and nothing will…even if they take it [off the state’s official records] it will still not bring him back,” he said.
South Carolina attorney Steve McKenzie hopes the Clarendon County solicitor will agree to file a motion to re-open the case by the end of this year.