George Stinney may receive new trial 70 years after his execution in South Carolina
By Ja’Neal Johnson
70 years ago, a 14 year old black teenager named George Stinney, would become the youngest to be executed in the history of the United States and of that century for the murder of two young white girls, Betty June Binnicker and Mary Emma Thames in the small town Alcolu, South Carolina in 1944.
It would take the all-white jury only 10 minutes to decide whether the young quiet Stinney was guilty. His defense lawyer made no effort to prove if George Stinney was innocent. No witnesses were called for his defense or no cross examination. George Stinney’s family would have to flee their home before the trial.His lawyer at the time would not file an appeal on behalf of Stinney. George Stinney would be executed by electrocution just 84 days after the two white girls were found. Today is a different story. The family of George Stinny hired lawyers to ask for a new trial. The presiding Judge Carmen T. Mullen will make a decision based on both sides. One side that was never heard during the trial in 1944.
Dr. Amanda Salas, a forensic psychiatrist testified that George Stinny’s confession does not match the evidence. Dr. Salas stated, “It is my professional opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the confession given by George Stinney on March 24, 1944 is best characterized by a coerced compliant, false confession. It is not reliable.” Seven-member board of Parole and Pardons spokesman Peter O’Boyle said Stinney’s application is pending and its investigation should conclude next week. Depending on Mullen’s ruling, the board could hear the case within a few months.
Ernest “Chip” Finney, third circuit solicitor urged Judge Carmen T. Mullen to leave the case alone, despite its flaws. “This would not happen today,” Finney said. “While we along with others have questions about the 1944 trial and its outcome..the evidence here is too speculative and the record is too uncertain for the motion to succeed.”
One of the lawyers working on the case Clarendon County attorney Steve McKenzie, said, “I think we got George Stinney’s story out there,” he said. “I think we got some of the family’s story out there that back in 1944 no one was able to get out there.”
There are no official records of the original trial.