It took an all-white jury in South Carolina all of 10 minutes to convict 14-year-old George Stinney in the murder of two white girls in 1944, and the black teen was executed in the electric chair three months later. Today, a state judge exonerated him, reports WLTX. Judge Carmen Mullen said it was all but certain that police officers coerced the youth into confessing that he fatally beat 11-year-old Betty Binnicker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames in the town of Alcolu. Mullen called it “a truly unfortunate episode in our history," reports the Guardian.
In vacating Stinney's conviction, Mullen wrote that she wasn't ruling on his guilt or innocence but on the unfairness of his prosecution and trial. At a hearing in January on the case, Stinney's sister testified that he could not have killed the girls because he was with her that day. She and two other siblings were nonetheless run out of town after their brother's arrest, reports Reuters. Writes Mullen: "I can think of no greater injustice than a violation of one's constitutional rights, which has been proven to me in this case by a preponderance of the evidence standard." (Read more South Carolina stories.)