The Execution of George Stinney Jr., Aged Fourteen, by the State of South Carolina, June 16, 1944

After a trial of only two and half hours
an all-white, all male jury
convicted George Stinney Jr., aged fourteen, an African American,
of murder in the first degree of two white girls
Betty Binnicker, aged eleven, and Mary Thames, aged seven.
He and his sister were alleged to be the last to see them alive.

The assigned white defence lawyer
cross examined no witness
nor called any witnesses.
The prosecution claimed George confessed
but there was no written record
just the notes of the Deputy.

George’s parents were threatened
and barred from seeing him.
He waited for his execution
alone in a cell, miles away from his home.

From the trial to his execution
George kept his bible with him
just two months later.

With no appeals or applications for a stay
George was led to the electric chair
still claiming his innocence.

The electric chair was too large for a child
a book was needed for him to sit on.
It may have been a phone book
or it may have been his bible.

The face mask was too large for a child
and slipped from his face
as thousands of volts ended George’s life.

George became the youngest person
executed in America during the twentieth century.

Seventy years later George’s family
petitioned and won a new trial.
The conviction was vacated
because he had not received a fair trial
his Sixth Amendment rights were violated
and the confession was coerced.

Seventy years too late for
George Stinney Jr., aged fourteen,
who was executed by the state of South Carolina on June 16, 1944.

Rob McKinnon and his wife and three children live in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. Read other articles by Rob.