In 1944, George Stinney Jr. was executed at the age of 14, so small that he had to sit on a phone book in the electric chair. On Wednesday, 70 years after he was found guilty of murder, Judge Carmen Mullins threw out the conviction.
It took a jury of 12 white men just 10 minutes to find the black teenager guilty of beating two white girls, ages 11 and 8, to death with a railroad spike. Officials in Alcolu, South Carolina, say that the 95-pound Stinney confessed to the murders, and his trial lasted just three hours. Civil rights leaders have long asked to get the case reopened, and in 2009, Stinney's sister said in an affidavit that she was with her brother the day of the murders and he couldn't have been involved.
Stinney was the youngest person executed in the United States in the 20th century; in 1944, 14 was the legal age of criminal responsibility in South Carolina.