|George Stinney, Jr; a copy of his fingerprints |
Judge Carmen Mullen of Beaufort, vacated the conviction against Stinney on Wesnesday [December 17]. In January, a judge agreed to hear new testimony and arguments in the case.
Mullen made no finding of whether Stinney was guilty or innocent in the death of two White girls he wass accused of killing in 1944. Segregation and intimidation of African Americans were rummaging across South Carolina, and all African Americans were at the mercy of White people in Clarendon County.
Third Circuit Solicitor Ernest Finney 111, “ . . . praised Mullen – who took nearly a year to write her 28-page opinion – for “doing a fine job of deliberating over some very novel issues that had to be addressed. As I understand it, this is not an exoneration of the young man, but it is a statement that due process was not complied with in the way it should have been.
"Mullens found numberous errors: Stinney's confession was likely coerced, the all-Whbite jury was not a juryh of his peers and his court appointed lawyer did little or nothing to defend him. There was no appeal of the case. tgoday,. juveniles cannot be executed. Less than two mnths passed between the trial and the executioin." (The State, South Carolina's Homepage)
UPDATE: On October 25, 2013, a 27 page motion was filed by lawyers to grant George Stinney, Jr. a new trial in hopes of posthumously clearing his name. Steve McKenzie, the lead attorney in the case, said they are confident that they can present enough evidence, so the judge will look at "this from the standards of today and say, 'this was not justice that was served back in 1944,'" said McKenzie.
According to another recent article in the Grio, " . . . the motion also includes two sworn statements from Stinney's two siblings, who say George was with family completing chores at the time of the murders and could not have committed the crime."
The Grio interviewed Wilford 'Johnny' Hunter, who was jailed for car theft in 1944. He said he was in the cell George Stinney. Hunter said they became friends, and the teenager told him that he did not kill the two girls.
He said, ''Johnny I I didn't do it. Why would they want to kill me for something I didn't do? For years . . .I used to have dreams," Hunter said, "About [Stinney] and the electric chair."
A few months ago I watched a true-life 2005 documentary titled The Trials of Darryl Hunt.
The documentary was about a young African American male, 19, born and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hunt was convicted to raping and murdering Deborah Sykes, 25, in 1984. She was a White woman employed at the Sentinel as a newspaper copy editor. This documentary got my attention, because it reminded me of other similar stories I had read about.
The Sentinel reported that Sykes was stabbed 16 times. She was raped and sodomized on the morning of August 10, 1984. Reportedly, she was on her way to work.
|14-year old George Stinney, Jr., is escorted into the death chamber with another Black male as two jailers standby.|
$1, 650,000 million after filing a lawsuit against the state of North Carolina.
I wish I could write that Stinney’s story was a rarity in 1944, but I cannot. None of these "guilty until guiltiness is further proven" cases were peculiar to the kinfolk of hanged and executed African Americans. Speedy trials and even faster sentences of death have never been rare in Black communities throughout the United States. A White woman could scream"rape" and most assuredly the accused, regardless of his proclaims of innocence, would be sentenced to death. Kangaroo trials were disguised as actual trials. All White jurors did not pretend to deliberate in jury rooms.
Recently, several authors and journalists have written about the forgotten story of George Stinney, Jr.; a true tale of a double murder in a small town. In the articles Alcolu is described as a small, working class town, where Blacks and Whites were separated by railroad tracks and race. Ironically, there is still a railroad tracks separation of Blacks and Whites in states all across America.
Over the span of 24 hours or less, local police officers arrested 14-year-old Stinney, charging him with brutally killing of Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 8. According to limited accounts regarding this tragedy on March 23, 1944, the girls, riding their bicycles, crossed the railroad tracks into the Black community. It's said they were looking for flowers.
George Stinney's brother, Rev. Charles Stinney, in an interview with WEBEALL Radio, said the police "rounded up several Black boys in the neighborhood." Alcolu police said Stinney used a railroad spike to beat the girls to death. They surmised that he dragged their bodies, along with their bicycles, down to a nearby creek. This murderous rampage occurred in broad daylight. None of Stinney’s neighbors came forward to say they had witnessed the beating deaths. None of his neighbors came forward to say they witnessed Stinney dragging the girls' lifeless bodies down to a nearby creek. Their bodies were found the next day by a White man, who later testified for the prosecution.
Quick (personal) analysis: Stinney was light in weight. Beat the girls to death with railroad spike, then dragged the two dead girls--both dead weight--down to a creek, along with their bicycles. He would have to make at least four trips to the creek without stopping. Surely someone in the neighborhood would have seen him dragging the dead girls to the creek. A grown man couldn't have pulled this off this bloody feat without someone seeing him.
Weighing only 90 to 95 pounds eliminates the possibility of Stinney being a muscular teenager, physically capable of committing two beating deaths. There was no mention of bloody clothes found in his home. No mention of bloody crime scene. No bloody railroad spike was ever found. No White males in Alcolu were suspected or questioned. It takes strength to beat someone to death. One has to assume that one girl stood still in panic, and watched her friend getting beat to death.
"Despite this fact, the police hauled Stinney into the station for hours of intense interrogation, without the presence of either of his parents. Reports claim the police offered Stinney ice cream if he confessed to them that he committed the double murder. Stinney confessed. There is no written record of his confession in the archives. There is no physical evidence linking Stinney to the murder. There is no paper record of Stinney’s conviction,” writes Maxwell. “This was South Carolina in 1944, with a Black male defendant, two young White female victims, and an all White, male jury. Stinney never stood a chance.”
Young Stinney could not look around the packed courtroom and see a friend. He could not search out the faces of his relatives to send him a comforting smile. He was surrounded by a courtroom of White Alcolu citizens that wanted him found guilty for the crime he was accused of committing. His court appointed lawyer made it easy for the jury to return a guilty verdict.
"Stinney's sister, Katherine Stinney Robinson, was interviewed on the fiftieth anniversary of her brother's execution and said, 'He was like my idol, you know. He was very smart in school, very artistic. He could draw all kinds of things. We had a good family. Small house, but there was a lot of love. It took my mother a long time to get over it. And maybe she never got over it,'” Stout wrote.
George Stinney, starring Lou Gossett, Jr., and Bruce Dern. (YouTube Videos)
George Stinney's brother, recalls what happened that tragic day that altered their lives.