*Exactly 70 years after 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr. was put to death by execution after being accused of murdering two young white girls 84 days earlier in the small mill town of Alcolu, S.C., the court came to a major decision.
Which was basically…Oops.
And by the looks of things, everyone is supposed to be impressed.
No physical evidence or trial transcript exists…and probably never did.
The year was 1944, according to newspaper accounts. And this kid’s “trial” had no witnesses called on his behalf. And no appeal was filed. In other words, this young boy had no one on his side. No one to speak on his behalf. So, in a matter of hours, he was sentenced to death by execution on June 16, 1944.
This made him the youngest person executed in the United States in the past century.
On Wednesday, South Carolina Circuit Judge Carmen T. Mullenjudge vacated Stinney’s conviction, essentially clearing his name – as if that matters now.
Here’s her order:
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.
According to theGrio, Defense lawyer Matthew Burgess called Wednesday “…a great day in South Carolina,” due to the ruling.
“We’re very pleased that George Stinney has been exonerated and that the conviction against him has been vacated.”
The attorney said he spoke with Stinney’s sister Amie and that the family is “very happy.”
Surprising, to me at least, is the fact that the producer of an upcoming film called 83 Days – which is based on Stinney’s execution timeline – said he was “overwhelmed” by the ruling.
“It’s never too late for justice,” Ray Brown, the producer, said. “There’s no statute of limitations on justice.”
And it’s this next part that may prove to be a real stomach-turner for some.
“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,” Brown added. 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.”
“It’s never too late for justice,” Brown said. “There’s no statute of limitations on justice.
Brown said the judge’s ruling is 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.
The film starts shooting in Atlanta in March, with Danny Glover and Carl Lumbly attached to the project, and Charles Burnett set to direct.