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Groveland (case), Florida

In 1949 four young African-American men (Samuel Shepherd, Walter Irvin, Charles Greenlee, and Ernest Thomas) were charged with raping a seventeen-year-old white farm girl in Groveland, Florida. They were convicted by an all-white jury. The case was appealed to the Florida Supreme Court which found that:

Two witnesses for the State testified as to the identity of the four [men]. From the description of the automobile as given by the two witnesses the same was later located. The three defendants testified they were driving the car in question during the same hours of the early morning except they were driving in the Orlando area, which was in the opposite direction.

In addition to the eyewitness testimony, there was physical evidence linking the car in which the young men were riding to the crime. The Florida Supreme Court stated:

Near the scene of the crime a handkerchief and some cotton were found. The woman was found near the scene of the crime about dawn. A large track about the scene fit the shoe of one of the appellants. Cotton or lint about the car and broken glass in the automobile testified to by the woman assisted the officers in identifying the car which the appellants admit they were riding in at the exact hour the State charge the crime was committed.

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