Radio personality, Tom Joyner sat before the South Carolina Parole and Pardon Board this morning to petition for the posthumous pardon of his great uncles, Thomas and Meeks Griffin. Both men were executed in 1915 for shooting John Lewis, a rich Confederate veteran, according to the Associated Press.
Joyner learned of his great-uncles fate after sitting down with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for his genealogy results on the PBS special, “African American Lives II.” Once he did his research, Joyner found out that the Griffin brothers were only given two days to prepare their legal case. They were subsequently executed by electric chair on September 29, 1915.
From there, he contacted attorney Stephen K. Benjamin and asked for help in putting together a case to clear his uncles from a crime they didn’t commit.
“And people don’t like to talk. There are not a lot of records that we can dig up. Had the genealogical study not been done, we wouldn’t have the story,” said Joyner.
This is the first exoneration awarded posthumously in South Carolina in a capital murder case.-WLW