A circuit court judge Wednesday vacated the murder conviction of a 14-year-old Alcolu boy that led to the boy's execution in June 1944.
Attorney Matt Burgess with the law firm Coffey, Chandler and McKenzie said Wednesday that the decision effectively clears George Stinney Jr.'s name.
"There won't be a new trial," he said. "This is different from a pardon. A pardon doesn't clear someone's name. This clears his name completely."
Stinney was executed 70 years ago for the murder of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames. He had been arrested for the murders a little more than 80 days earlier. Stinney family members said in June while laying a memorial in the boy's memory in Alcolu that they have always believed in his innocence.
“We have come here today to finally place a memorial and let the world know that he was wrongly convicted and unjustly executed,” said second-cousin Irene Lawson-Hill in June. “It is a stain on the judicial record of South Carolina, and it must be removed.”
Burgess joined lead attorneys Steve McKenzie and Ray Chandler petitioned a circuit court judge during a two-day hearing in January for a new trial, saying Stinney’s first was tainted by a coerced confession and lack of adequate legal defense.
In rendering her decision, Judge Carmen Mullen cited constitutional violations during Stinney's original trial, McKenzie said Wednesday.
UPDATE: Finney comments on Stinney decision
UPDATE: Full Order
UPDATE: Stinney sister: Order 'long overdue'
UPDATE: Slain girl's niece: Judge took 'easy way out' in Stinney decision
UPDATE: Binnicker family friend believes Stinney guilty, despite judge's ruling
UPDATE: Stinney attorneys pleased with judge's ruling