16 June 1944 – George Stinney
George Junius Stinney Junior became the youngest person to be executed in the US during the 20th century.
It is unclear whether he was actually guilty or whether it was lynch-mob mentality that ensured he was executed. His trial took a mere four hours and the all-white, male jury took just 10 minutes to sentence the young black child to death for killing two white girls – Betty June Binnicker, aged 11, and Mary Emma Thames, aged eight – with a railroad spike.
But when you hear the child was so very slight and just 5ft 1in tall, it’s hard to believe he was even able to wield the spike, let alone kill someone with it. Nevertheless he was found guilty and given over to the mercy of Old Sparky and what made it worse was that his family were advised to uproot to avoid reprisals, so the child was left to face death on his tod.
Too small to fit properly, apparently the executioners had trouble strapping Stinney in and during his electric execution the regulation helmet fell off to expose his contorted and frightened little face.