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RAILROADED  AT  FOURTEEN 

He was 14 years, six months and five days old.  In 1944, George Junius Stinney Jr., 14, became the youngest person executed for a crime in the United States in the 20th century.  The 5’1, 95-lb. African-American boy was sent to the electric chair for allegedly killing two young white girls - 11 year-old Betty June Binnicker and eight-year-old Mary Emma Thames - by beating them with a railroad spike and dragging their bodies to a ditch in South Carolina.

On March 23, 1944, the two girls disappeared while looking for flowers to put on their bicycles.   As they passed the Stinney home, they asked the young seventh grader and his sister, Katherine, if they knew where to find "maypops," a type of flower.   A day later, the girls were found dead with severe head wounds in a ditch of muddy water.   Among the search crew was George Stinney, Sr.

After his son was arrested for the crime, George Stinney Sr. was fired from his job at the sawmill, and his family was forced to move away from the city for fear of lynchings from the angry mobs.   Stinney Jr.  would be left to face trial alone.   According to the police, George Stinney Jr.  confessed to wanting sex with Betty June, admitting that as he tried to kill her friend, Mary Emma, they fought.   He allegedly killed both girls with a 15-inch railroad spike, which was found near the crime scene.

The confession of George Stinney, Jr. was never recorded in police files. There were even rumors that he was offered ice cream by the police if he cooperated with the confession.   During his trial, George Stinney Jr. was given a tax commissioner as a defense lawyer.   He was convicted and sentenced in one day of court.   There were no witnesses called to the stand. Blacks were not allowed inside the courtroom, and there is no transcript of the trial details.

George Frierson, a school board member, is now seeking a pardon for George Stinney Jr., though lack of sufficient evidence and transcripts make the case difficult.  On a positive note, the prosecution’s argument was just as weak.  The defense called no witnesses and never filed an appeal.  No one challenged the sheriff’s recollection of the confession.   Here at One Voice / One Sound,  Inc.,  we remember Master George J. Stinney, Jr. -  An African-American "child"  who was "Railroaded"  at the age of Fourteen.  May this young Kings' soul rest forever in peace.

UPDATE:

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - A South Carolina judge on Wednesday December 17 2014, vacated the conviction of a black teenager executed in 1944 for the murder of two white girls, saying he had not received a fair trial.  George Stinney Jr. was, at age 14, the youngest person to be executed in the United States in the past century. He was convicted of killing Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7, and was executed three months after their deaths.

In her ruling, Judge Carmen Tevis Mullen wrote that she was not overturning the case on its merits but on the failure of the court to grant Stinney a fair trial.   "From time to time we are called to look back to examine our still-recent history and correct injustice where possible," she wrote. "I can think of no greater injustice than a violation of one's constitutional rights, which has been proven to me in this case by a preponderance of the evidence standard."

The girls disappeared on March 23, 1944, after leaving home in the small mill town of Alcolu on their bicycles to look for wildflowers. They were found the next morning in a shallow ditch behind a church, their skulls crushed.  Stinney was taken into custody and confessed to the killings within hours of the bodies being found, according to Mullen's ruling. His trial, before an all-white jury, lasted one day.