Monday, May 16, 2011

Did You Know that a 14 year old boy was executed via electric chair in the United States in 1944?

By: Erica Taylor, The Tom Joyner Morning Show 

George Junius Stinney Jr.

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.


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