George Junius Stinney Jr. (October 21, 1929 – June 16, 1944) was an African-American youth who at a flawed trial was convicted at age 14 of murder in 1944 in his home town of Alcolu, South Carolina. He was the youngest person in the United States in the 20th-century to be sentenced to death and to be executed.
Stinney was convicted in 1944 in a one-day trial of the first-degree murder of two white girls: 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 8-year-old Mary Emma Thames. After being arrested, Stinney was said to have confessed to the crime. There was no written record of his confession apart from notes provided by an investigating deputy, and no transcript of the brief trial. He was executed by electric chair.
Since Stinney's conviction and execution, the question of his guilt, the validity of his reported confession, and the judicial process leading to his execution have been extensively criticized.
A group of lawyers and activists investigated the Stinney case on behalf of his family. In 2013 the family petitioned for a new trial. On December 17, 2014, his conviction was posthumously vacated 70 years after his execution, because the circuit court judge ruled that he had not been given a fair trial; he had no effective defense and his Sixth Amendment rights had been violated. The judgment noted that while Stinney may in fact have committed the crime, the prosecution and trial were fundamentally flawed.
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