Florida Judge Clears Charges Against ‘Groveland Four,’ Black Men Accused of 1949 Rape

A Florida judge on Monday posthumously exonerated four black men, known as the “Groveland Four,” wrongly accused of raping a white teenager 72 years ago during the Jim Crow era of Southern U.S. racial segregation. Lake County Circuit Court Judge Heidi Davis took a final step in the cases of Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Sam Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, the last gunned down by a posse before facing trial. The four men had been officially and posthumously pardoned in 2019. Davis set aside the judgments and sentences of Irvin and Greenlee and dismissed the indictments of the other two. In a motion seeking their exoneration, Florida state attorney Bill Gladson said newly uncovered evidence called into question whether any rape was committed and strongly suggested that “the sheriff, the judge, and the prosecutor all but ensured guilty verdicts in this case.” “We followed the evidence to see where it led …

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