We Execute A Black Child, Whitewash The Facts, And Now Clearing His Name Is A Long Shot (VIDEO)

Two little white girls, 8 and 11 years of age, dead of blunt force trauma—their little bodies dumped in a ditch.

A 14 year old black child was arrested, tried, convicted and executed within 3 months of the murders. The all white male jury spent 10 minutes deliberating after a 3 hour trial. He weighed 95 pounds at the time of his execution. The child had to sit on a phone book so that his execution in an electric chair could take place.

George Stinney Jr

Photo courtesy of mermaidsdrown.blogspot.com

Given the current civil unrest across the country, this sounds like something out of today’s headlines. But it happened 70 years ago in the very small company town of Alcolu, South Carolina. A town divided by railroad tracks with whites living on one side and blacks on the other. Two families divided by the tracks yet joined in these tragic events and each seeking ‘justice’ for the children.

George Stinney, Jr. was purportedly with his family but he was arrested along with his older brother. After giving conflicting confessions, the authorities released the brother and charged George. George’s family, devastated but afraid of what the town folks might do to the rest of the family, fled town.

The little girls, Betty June and Mary Emma, were buried but not forgotten.

On Wednesday, a circuit court judge threw out George’s conviction 70 years after his execution.

There has been much discussion since the case of the youngest child to be executed in the 20th century has come under scrutiny. The families divided in 1944 are still divided, each arguing the facts as they remember them.

Frankie Dyches, the niece of Betty June Binnicker, the 11 year old bludgeoned on March 23, 1944, has made her voice heard:

“I think that it needs to be left as is.”

She has testified that her family has never doubted that George was responsible for the death of Betty June and that her grandparents, the parents of the little girl, were never the same.

The other family—relatives of George—have a much different recollection of the events of that day and along with legal advocates and a medical expert, have asked the court to reopen the case this past January.

Evidence has been offered that there were no witnesses, no physical evidence and that George was represented by an incompetent attorney who did not put on a defense for the child nor did he seek an appeal after the verdict.

“Stinney’s attorney, a tax commissioner with political ambitions but no trial experience, failed to file a notice of appeal, which would have at least delayed the boy’s execution. Several local churches and the NAACP petitioned then-Gov. Olin Johnson to stop the execution. He declined.”

An historian, George Frierson, has been working for years to have this case reopened.

“This was a courthouse lynching. I want his name cleared, and I want an apology from the state of South Carolina for putting a child to death.”

After numerous hearings, George’s name has not been ‘cleared,’ but his conviction was overturned on Wednesday when Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the decision against George Stinney Jr. His family speaks as if vacating the conviction is proof that George was innocent. This is merely a decision by a judge that the facts as now described were not enough to have convicted George in 1944.

But his family is happy nonetheless:

“I’m happy for this day because its been such a long time coming, but then I cringe when I go back into that childhood and think of George back in the day. He had no one to help him. I get chills every time I think about it.”

The file is long gone, many witnesses are dead but the ones that are still here still differ on what happened 7 decades ago.

There are no real winners in this story.

Featured image courtesy of pix11.com

Here’s the video: