Advocates hope to overturn verdict for teen executed decades ago

By Drew Stewart - bio | email

MANNING, SC (WIS) - More than 65 years ago, the youngest person executed on record in this country died in the electric chair in South Carolina.

George Stinney was just 14 when he was convicted of killing two girls in Clarendon County in 1944.

A Manning attorney has joined a group that has been working for years to clear Stinney's name.

The murder of two Alcolu girls in 1944 still strikes a chord with folks in Clarendon county.
     
Stinney was convicted and eventually executed for the crime, but Alcolu native George Frierson says Stinney's trial was flawed, which is why he's been fighting on his behalf.

"So we could have justice for Mr. Stinney, because he didn't get justice in his trial," said Frierson.

"We decided we would do whatever we needed to do to clear this boy's name," said Manning attorney Steve McKenzie.

McKenzie joined Frierson's fight to overturn Stinney's conviction, which he says came at a time when African-Americans had few rights in a justice system that whites ruled.

"The evidence that was there was basically his confession and we found out a 14-year-old boy being interrogated alone by, in that point in time, four white officers," said McKenzie.
    
But when McKenzie started looking into the case, the only evidence he found were hand-written notes taken by the officers of a verbal confession. McKenzie believes that confession could have been coerced.

"In today's era, that confession would not have held up in court," said McKenzie.

Ultimately, McKenzie would like to see the case re-opened and Stinney exonerated. But given how little evidence there is that may be tough.

Frierson is working on Stinney's behalf because it's what he would want if a member of his family had suffered injustice.

"I have sons and if I were not around, I would hope someone would act as an advocate on their behalf," he said.

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