The family of a 14-year-old black boy executed in 1944 for killing two white girls in a one-day trial are asking a South Carolina judge to grant him a new trial in hopes of clearing him of all charges, the Associated Press reports.
George Stinney was convicted of the deaths of two girls, ages 11 and 7 based on a on a confession in a segregated society according to the lawsuit filed last month on Stinney’s behalf in Clarendon County. At age 14, the boy is the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century.
“I think it’s a long shot, but I admire the lawyer for trying it,” Kenneth Gaines, a professor at the University of South Carolina said. Gaines said he is not aware of any other inmates in the state who have been granted a new trial after being executed.
The request for a new trial will be a difficult one. The judge may deny the request since the punishment was already carried out. The state also has strict rules for introducing new evidence after a trial is complete.
New evidence would include sworn statements from two of Stinney’s siblings who say he was with them the entire day the girls were killed. But notes from Stinney’s confession and a lot of other information used to convict the teen has disappeared, according to the Huffington Post.
The two girls were killed in March of 1944 after being last seen looking for wildflowers. The girls never made it home and hundreds of people searched for them. Their bodies were found the next morning in a water-filled ditch. After authorities got the tip that Stinney was seen talking to the girls, they went to his home and took him away. His family wouldn’t see him until after his trial.
Stinney’s supporters say they would prefer exoneration to a pardon.
“Why was George Stinney electrocuted? The state can’t produce any paperwork to justify why he was,” George Frierson, a local school board member who grew up in Stinney’s hometown heard stories about the case and decided six years ago to start studying it and pushing for exoneration.
A date for hearing on the matter has not been set.
Sources: The Associated Press, Huffington Post