George Stinney, Jr., was 14 years old when he was accused of murdering two young white girls. He was 5 feet, 1 inch and weighed all of 95 pounds. But he was black, and this was South Carolina in 1944.
George was sentenced to die in the electric chair – the youngest ever executed in America during the 20th century – after a confession that may have been elicited by a promise of ice cream. My friend Zerlina Maxwell wrote about this incredible story in theGrio:
George Junius Stinney was even part of the search crew and told a bystander simply that he had seen the girls earlier that day. This claim was enough probable cause for the South Carolina police to arrest Stinney for the double murder, even though, the idea of him being strong enough to kill not one but two girls is a stretch. Despite this fact, the police hauled Stinney into the station for hours of intense interrogation, without the presence of either of his parents. Reports claim the police offered Stinney ice cream if he confessed to them that he committed the double murder.
The article goes on into greater detail about the doubt surrounding George’s case: no existing written record of his confession; no physical evidence linking him to the murder; no paper record of his conviction. An attorney is requesting that the current Clarendon County solicitor re-open the case.
More advocates for his exoneration are also speaking out. Wendell Pierce, activist and star of HBO’s “The Wire” and “Treme,” is backing a play about George’s story. NBC Nightly News profiled the case last night, and today theGrio follows up, interviewing George’s youngest brother, Charles.
Mr. Stinney, now 79 and pastor of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ in Brooklyn, had some words of caution for advocates of the death-penalty:
“Before you take someone’s life, you should make sure, [you] have two or three witnesses, not just one witness, but two or three witnesses and some evidence or something to make sure […]” Stinney said “[Because] you’re taking somebody’s life like that, you can’t bring [them] back…”
“[George] already paid with his life and nothing will…even if they take it [off the state’s official records], it will still not bring him back.”
The video of his interview with theGrio’s Todd Johnson is embedded after the jump.