On June 16, 1944, 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr. became the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century.
Wednesday, a South Carolina judge vacated Stinney’s conviction, which essentially clears his name. Stinney was convicted of murdering two white girls in Alcolu, South Carolina.
His trial lasted a few hours and no witnesses were called on his behalf. When he was sentenced to die by electrocution, no appeal was filed.
No physical evidence or trial transcript exists.
Below is the order from Circuit Judge Carmen T. Mullen:
This Court finds fundamental, Constitutional violations of due process exist in the 1944 prosecution of George Stinney, Jr. and hereby vacates the judgment.
According to WBTV’s Jeremy Turnage’s report, Judge Mullen wrote:
Given the particularized circumstances of Stinney’s case, I find by a preponderance of the evidence standard, that a violation of the Defendant’s procedural due process rights tainted his prosecution.
Defense lawyer Matthew Burgess told theGrio.com that Wednesday “is a great day in South Carolina,” because of the ruling.
“We’re very pleased that George Stinney has been exonerated and that the conviction against him has been vacated.”
Burgess said he’s talked with Stinney’s sister Amie and the family is “very happy.”
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.”
Brown called the judge’s ruling a “great statement” to the rest of the country, especially considering the recent grand jury decisions related to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Brown’s film will begin shooting in Atlanta in March. Actors Danny Glover and Carl Lumbly are attached to the project, and Charles Burnett is set to direct.