Nearly 70 years after 14-year-old George Stinney Jr. was convicted and executed for the killing of two girls, a hearing to consider reopening the case has begun in South Carolina.
Stinney, who was black, was convicted in 1944 after just one day of trial proceedings in the murder of two white girls, Betty Binnicker, 11, and Mary Thames, 8. The jury took just 10 minutes to convict him, despite the prosecution presenting very little evidence.
He was executed just 83 days later, the youngest person to be executed in the United States in a century.
"Let me begin by saying this is a tragic situation," said Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen, who is overseeing the hearing in Sumter, S.C. "No one here can justify a 14-year-old child being charged, tried and executed in 83 days."
"In essence, not much was done for this child when his life lay in the balance," she said.
The hearing, Mullen said, is not to determine whether Stinney was innocent or guilty, but whether he was given a fair trial.
Supporters say Stinney was forced to confess, was denied proper legal council and his parents weren't allowed to supervise his questioning.
"The trial last only one day the lawyer didn't ask any questions on cross-examination which is stipulated to by the state, they called no witnesses, and they offered little or no defense in this case," Mullen said in her opening statement of the hearing Tuesday, which may extend into Wednesday.
[Post and Courier]