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Seventy years after South Carolina executed a 14-year-old boy so small he sat on a book in the electric chair, a circuit court judge threw out his murder conviction.
On Wednesday morning, Judge Carmen Mullins vacated the decision against George Stinney Jr., a black teen who was convicted of beating two young white girls to death in the small town of Alcolu in 1944.
Civil rights advocates have spent years trying to get the case reopened, arguing that Stinney’s confession was coerced. At the time of his arrest, Stinney weighed just 95 pounds. Officials said Stinney had admitted beating the girls, 11 and 8 years old, with a railroad spike.
In a 2009 affidavit, Stinney’s sister said she had been with him on the day of the murders and he could not have committed them.
Stinney was put on trial and then executed within three months of the killings. His trial lasted three hours, and a jury of 12 white men took 10 minutes to find him guilty.
He is often cited as the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century. At the time of the crime, 14 was the legal age of criminal responsibility in the state.