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Judge Considering George Stinney Jr. Murder Case

8:37 PM, Jan 22, 2014   |    comments
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Sumter, SC (WLTX) -- A hearing to determine whether or not George Stinney Jr. got a fair trial wrapped up Wednesday afternoon, and is in now in a judge's hands.

Stinney was sent to the electric chair in 1944 when he was just 14-years-old after a jury found him guilty of murdering two young girls: Betty June Binnicker, 11, and Mary Emma Thames, 7.

Part of the evidence against Stinney was his confession, and that confession was the focus of dramatic testimony. 

"Obviously the judge has a tough job to do," said Third Circuit Solicitor, Chip Finney.

Following an emotional first day in court, which included testimony from both of George Stinney Jr.'s living sisters, Catherine Stinney-Robinson and Amie Ruffner, 79 and 77-years-old, respectively.

The second day swiftly moved into testimony of an expert on child psychology.

Dr . Amanda Salas said she spoke to members of the Stinney family about family culture -- how they spent their days and how the children were raised -- which lead her to believe that Stinney Jr.'s confession was coerced.

Salas said the confession "can be characterized as a coerced, compliant, false confession and is not reliable."

Stinney confessed to bludgeoning two girls and leaving their bodies in a watery ditch.

A niece of Binnicker insists that after Stinney was executed, justice was served.

"He was sentenced to the laws that were in place in 1944, I believe," said Frankie Bailey Dyches. 'It needs to be left alone."

George Stinney Jr.'s nephew feels different.

"Justice is clearing his name," said George Stinney, who is the son of George Stinney, Jr.'s brother, Charles Stinney. "You can't bring him back. Stinney reiterated that he was interested in clearing his uncles name "because we know he was innocent."

Judge Carmen Mullen said the hearing is not about determining guilt or innocence, instead saying it's about whether Stinney Jr.'s day-long trial was fair.

"If you're going to provide a process to try somebody in the state of South Carolina, and if it's 1944, or 2004, or 2014, you need to provide due process," said Steve McKenzie of the law firm of Coffey, Chandler and McKenzie, the attorneys arguing for a new trial.

Finney said the 70 years since the murders has allowed evidence to deteriorate, but said the case should stay closed.

"We do the best we can, and the law provides that once a case is closed, it generally stays closed," Finney said "and we're asking the judge to consider that as she rules on the information she received this week.

The judge has given both sides 10 days to evaluate legal issues of the case.

No timeline has been set for when the two sides will return to court.

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