The youngest person to be executed in the United States in the 20th century was 14-year-old George Stinney Jr., a South Carolina boy convicted in the beating death of two white girls in 1944. On Wednesday (Dec. 17) it was announced that a judge overturned his conviction, 70 years after the teen was sent to the electric chair.
Stinney was coerced into confessing to the deaths of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames. Police never recorded written proof of his admission.
According to a 2009 indictment, his sister Katherine maintained that she was with him at the time, and that he could not have committed the murders.
The girls disappeared after going on a bike ride looking for flowers. They passed Stinney and his sister, along the way. Stinney was involved in a search party looking for the girls, and mentioned that he had seen them earlier in the day. The bodies of the victims were found the next morning.
Stinney’s family was forced out of the town of Alcolu, S.C., under the threat that they would be lynched for staying. They fled, leaving him alone over the 81-days that he was confined, tried, and wrongfully killed.
The youngster, only 95 lbs, and too small to fit in the electric chair, was wrongfully convicted based off the testimony of three police officers. There was no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and his lawyer did not argue against the recounts of police, nor did he call witnesses for his defense.
A jury of 12 white men took only 10 minutes to find Stinney guilty.