New trial sought for 14-year-old boy executed in 1944

A hearing is taking place this week at the Sumter County Judicial Center seeking a new trial for 14-year-old George Stinney, Jr., who was convicted and executed by the electric chair on June 16, 1944 for the murders of two girls ages 7 and 11 in the Alcolu community of Clarendon County.

Their bodies were found on March 24,1944.

Civil rights leaders say Stinney confessed but was coerced. The trial lasted two and a half hours without testimony from Stinney or anyone on his behalf.

His sister Catherine Stinney Robinson was the first person to take the stand. She believes her brother had nothing to do with the murders of the girls.

"It keeps coming up and I would like to have it solved," said Robinson.

Stinney was the youngest person to be executed in the United States in the past 100 years.

Clarendon County Solicitor Ernest "Chip" Finney believes the execution was inappropriate for a person that young, but says there's no evidence to suggest that Stinney didn't commit the crimes.

"There was no evidence to corroborate the innocence of Mr. Stinney from any of the reports. He was given a trial. He was given a lawyer and at that trial a confession made by him was introduced into evidence. The dirt on the hands of the state, I'm not aware of," said Finney.

Terri Evans was in court for the hearing. Her cousin was one of the victims. She says the murders have affected her family for nearly 70 years.

"It's been so long ago, but our family has carried this history for over 70 years. It just so happens that our uncle who was at the search party, who was at the execution passed away six months ago and it's always been discussed in our family," said Evans.

She hopes the judge won't overturn Stinney's conviction.

"I'm praying that the judge decides that it's been way too long ,way too long. Everyone that was at the execution has gone on to heaven and I think it's time to put the past behind us. And also learn from it," Evans said.

Circuit Court Judge Carmen T. Mullen is presiding over the hearing. It is not clear if she will reach a decision this week as to if a new trial is granted.

We will let you know when a decision is reached.