Times 2

Was the youngest person to be executed in the US innocent?

He stood just 5ft 1in, weighing only 95 pounds and when police led George Junius Stinney to the death chamber in 1944 he was, at the age of 14, the youngest person to be executed in the U.S.

He was so small that large books had to be placed on the seat so his head could reach the electrodes. Stinney, of Alcolu, South Carolina, was convicted of murdering two white girls after police said he confessed to the murders. But now a lawyer is determined to prove Stinney was innocent and is calling Claredon County district attorney in South Carolina to reopen the case. The two girls who died were 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and eight-year-old Mary Emma Thames.

They went missing one day after they were riding their bikes while looking for flowers in a small working class town of Alcolu. At that time whites and blacks were separated by railroad tracks. The girls were later found dead in a ditch, murdered with a railroad spike, thegrio.com reports.

'Easy target': George Junius Stinney died in the electric chair in South Carolina at the age of 14

Stinney joined the search crew and happened to tell a bystander that he had seen the girls earlier that day. The police were informed of that and Stinney was arrested for the double murder. He was brought into the station for hours of tough interrogation, without either of his parents being present. Reports claim the police offered Stinney ice cream if he confessed to them that he committed the double murder.

Stinney verbally confessed and to this day there is no written record of his confession in the archives. There is no physical evidence linking Stinney to the murder and no record on paper of Stinney's conviction.

South Carolina attorney Steve McKenzie says he believes the case should be reopened because of the lack of evidence or archived material.

Mr McKenzie hopes attorney general Ernest 'Chip' Finney, will agree to file a motion to re-open the case by the end of this year. He argues that Stinney was an 'easy target' and was used as a 'scapegoat' by police who wanted to quickly find and punish anyone they could tie to the murders.

'There was only a coerced confession. An oral confession testified to two white officers and told to an all white male jury.' Mr Mckenzie told thegrio.com: 'Stinney was a convenient target. But how do you exonerate somebody where there is absolutely no evidence one way or the other?

He believes, however, the complete lack of evidence will exonerate Stinney of the murders once and for all.

© Daily Mail, London

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