New trial sought for executed US 14yo

Posted: November 11, 2013 in Political musings
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Activists in the US are trying to get a new trial for a 14 year-old boy who was executed in 1944.

George Stinney has been dead since 1944, when as a 14-year-old he became the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century, for killing two white girls.

Now his supporters are taking the unheard-of step of asking for a new trial.

Stinney’s case brings together two of the longest-running disputes in the American legal system – the death penalty and race.

Stinney was convicted on a shaky confession in a segregated society that wanted revenge for the beating deaths of two girls, aged 11 and 7, according to a lawsuit filed last month on Stinney’s behalf in South Carolina.

He was electrocuted just 84 days after the girls were killed. Newspaper stories reported that witnesses said the straps to keep him in the electric chair didn’t fit around his small frame.

The request for a new trial is largely symbolic, but Stinney’s supporters say they would prefer exoneration to a pardon – which they’ve asked for as well.

The judge may refuse to hear the request for a new trial, since the punishment has already been carried out.

The two girls were last seen looking for wildflowers in the racially divided mill town of Alcolu. Stinney’s sister, who was 7 at the time, says in her new affidavit for the lawsuit that she and her brother were letting their cow graze when the girls asked them where they could find flowers called maypops. The sister, Amie Ruffner, said her brother told them he didn’t know, and the girls left.

“It was strange to see them in our area, because white people stayed on their side of Alcolu and we knew our place,” Ruffner wrote.

The girls never came home. They were found the next morning in a water-filled ditch, their heads beaten with a hard object, likely a railroad spike.

The request for a new trial includes sworn statements from two of Stinney’s siblings who say he was with them the entire day the girls were killed.

Notes from Stinney’s confession and most other information used to convict him in a one-day trial have disappeared, along with any transcript of the proceedings. Only a few pages of cryptic, hand-written notes remain, according to the motion.

“Why was George Stinney electrocuted? The state can’t produce any paperwork to justify why he was,” said George Frierson, a local school board member who grew up in Stinney’s hometown hearing stories about the case and decided six years ago to start studying it and pushing for exoneration.

The request for a new trial points out that at just 43 kilograms it’s unlikely Stinney could have killed the girls and dragged them to the ditch.

The motion also hints at community rumours of a deathbed confession from a white man several years ago and the possibility Stinney confessed because his family was threatened.

(From AP)

What a movie this would make …

  1. gwpj says:

    It would make a fantastic movie, Yolly. Thanks for posting on this.


  2. jvdix says:

    I’m reminded of the story that when Steven Spielberg approached John Williams (the American composer, not the Australian guitarist) to compose the music for the film “Schindler’s List,” Williams said, “For this you need a better composer than I am.” Spielberg replied, “I know. But they’re all dead.” Without vouching for the truth of the story, I believe that all the people who made “To Kill a Mockingbird” are dead. Of course that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be done. “Schindler’s List” got made and the music is remarkable. Thanks for the post!


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