Decide exonerates the “Groveland 4” — 72 years after rape declare

A Florida choose has exonerated the “Groveland 4” — 4 Black males who had been accused of attacking and raping a White teen at gunpoint in 1949.

Invoice Gladson, the native state legal professional, fought for the lads’s convictions to be overturned. “We adopted the proof to see the place it led us, and it led us to this second,” Gladson mentioned at a information convention Monday.

When 17-year-old Norma Padgett made the accusation, the Ku Klux Klan torched Black neighborhoods in Groveland and an offended mob killed one of many males, Ernest Thomas. The others, Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin and Samuel Shepherd, had been crushed into confessing.

After an all-White jury convicted the lads, Thurgood Marshall, who was a lawyer for the NAACP on the time, received them a brand new trial. However the native sheriff shot and killed Shepherd, claiming he tried to flee. Greenlee and Irvin had been sentenced to life in jail.

An impartial investigation later decided the lads had been harmless they usually had been granted pardons by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state’s clemency board in 2019.

Groveland Four
From left: Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall, an unidentified man, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd and Charles Greenlee.

State Library and Archives of Florida/AP

Padgett, nonetheless, continued to keep up that she didn’t lie concerning the incident. “I’m not no liar,” she mentioned at a clemency listening to in 2019. “If I needed to go to court docket as we speak I might inform you a similar story.”

The households of the exonerated males celebrated the choose’s ruling on Monday. 

“Wow, it has been a very long time coming,” Gerald Risk, Irvin’s nephew, mentioned in a information convention. “This Thanksgiving, we are able to have a wholly totally different ambiance with out this hanging over our head.”

Carol Greenlee, the daughter of Charles Greenlee, mentioned, “My father was a caring, loving, compassionate individual that didn’t rape anyone.”

Manuel Bojorquez contributed to this report.

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