Alabama granted posthumous pardons on Thursday to three of the Scottsboro Boys, a group of black teenagers whose fight against false charges that they raped two white women in 1931 helped spur the modern civil rights movement.
The three men exonerated by the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles — Charles Weems, Andy Wright and Haywood Patterson — were among nine youths accused of gang-raping the two women aboard a freight train and convicted by all-white juries in the town of Scottsboro.
“Today, the Scottsboro Boys have finally received justice,” Gov. Robert Bentley (R) said.
The group’s legal journey to fight the convictions and win new trials sparked protests over racial injustice and two landmark rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court.
All of the Scottsboro Boys served prison time, but convictions against five of the teens were overturned and the charges dropped in 1937. A sixth man, Clarence Norris, got a pardon in 1976 from then-Gov. George Wallace. Earlier this year, Alabama lawmakers passed legislation aimed at allowing the parole board to grant posthumous pardons to the Scottsboro Boys.
— From news services
Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, who spent 11 years in prison for the 1975 murder of a teenage neighbor in Greenwich, Conn., walked free Thursday after a judge granted him bail ahead of a new trial.
Skakel, 53, was convicted in 2002 of murdering neighbor Martha Moxley when they were both 15. But a judge last month ordered a new trial, finding that Skakel’s attorney had been ineffective.
Skakel stood quietly in court in Stamford, Conn., on Thursday as Judge Gary White set his bail at $1.2 million, sparking applause from his supporters. The judge told Skakel, nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel, not to leave the state and to wear a GPS tracking device.
Holmes trial postponed: The judge in the Colorado theater shootings indefinitely postponed the trial of James Holmes Thursday so attorneys can argue whether he should undergo further psychiatric evaluation. The trial had been scheduled to begin in February. Holmes, 25, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of killing 12 people and injuring of 70 at a suburban Denver theater in July 2012.
Utah attorney general to step down: Utah Attorney General John Swallow (R) announced Thursday that he is stepping down amid multiple investigations of bribery and misconduct that have hounded him since he took office at the beginning of the year.
Student indicted in Mass. teacher killing: A 14-year-old Massachusetts boy sexually assaulted his high school algebra teacher with an object before killing her and stealing her credit cards and iPhone, according to an indictment issued Thursday. Philip Chism has been held without bail since the Oct. 22 slaying of Colleen Ritzer, 24, whose body was found behind Danvers High School.
— From news services