George Stinney case: Child psychiatrist says confession was ‘coerced…false’

A child psychiatrist said it was her professional opinion that an executed teen’s alleged confession to killing two young girls in March 1944, was a “coerced, compliant false” confession.

Dr. Amanda Salas, who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry, was the first defense witness in day two of a hearing to determine whether or not George Stinney deserves a new trial.

Stinney was executed after he was convicted of killing Betty June Binnicker and Mary Emma Thames in Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944.

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Salas conducted interviews with George’s two sisters, Amie Ruffner and Katherine Stinney-Robinson, as well as Wilford “Johnny” Hunter, who claims to have shared a cell with Stinney before he was executed. 

She said she reviewed witness affidavits, medical reports, notes from prosecutors at the time of the original trial and other reports.

George’s sisters told Salas their brother was interested in playing with marbles, reading books and drawing. Hunter described similar interests to Salas, including how George would read comic books during the short time the two shared a cell together. 

“Despite the limited information, I have done a sufficient job with the time I had to do this,” Salas said of her efforts evaluating the reliability of Stinney’s confession. “Otherwise I would not make an opinion.”

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Salas said there was nothing from her research or interviews to indicate George had an interest in “following female populations, looking for girlfriends or members of the opposite sex.”

Solicitor Ernest “Chip” Finney questioned Salas’ methodology in coming up with her conclusion that Stinney’s alleged confession wasn’t reliable. Finney, representing the prosecution, maintained there was no evidence of police misconduct in obtaining a confession from George.

At the time, a law enforcement officer said Stinney had also confessed to a desire to have sex with one of the victims.  Salas said this is not supported by the physical evidence of the case.

Salas is the final witness for the defense.

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