‘Groveland Four’ exonerated by judge in Florida

The Lake County men were accused of the 1949 rape under dubious circumstances. One was hunted down and shot more than 400 times.


First Coast News Staff, Bob Hazen, WESH .


12:55 PM EST November 22, 2021


12:57 PM EST November 22, 2021




JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Monday, a judge exonerated a group of men accused of raping a woman more than 70 years ago, according to a report from WESH.

The “Groveland Four” was compromised of Ernest Thomas, Samuel Shepherd, Charles Greenlee, and Walter Irvin. They were all accused of raping a white woman in 1949 and sentenced to death.

The Groveland Four were officially pardoned by Gov. Ron DeSantis back in 2019. However, WESH reports a pardon does not remove the doubt or inference of guilt, making Monday’s dismissal of charges significant.

RELATED: Florida pardons 4 black men accused of 1949 rape

The state attorney said the case was based on fabricated evidence and called it a criminal conspiracy between the sheriff and his deputies.

To get this dismissal, the state attorney had to find some new evidence that could have changed the outcome of the trial. They found that, in a pair of pants that were still in Lake County. They had it tested, and found no evidence of a sexual assault.

That was enough, they said, to file a motion to drop the case.

Read the rest of this story from WESH by clicking here.

The Lake County men were accused of the 1949 rape under dubious circumstances. One was hunted down by a posse of about 1,000 men and shot more than 400 times.

Three others were convicted. After the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a new trial in 1951, a sheriff shot two of them, claiming the handcuffed men were trying to escape. One died.

The two surviving men were eventually paroled.

In 2017, the House and Senate voted unanimously to formally apologize to the men’s families and asked then-Gov. Rick Scott to pardon them. He took no action.

RELATED: State attorney files motion to dismiss indictments for ‘Groveland Four’ accused of 1949 rape

RELATED: Florida pardons ‘Groveland Four’ accused of 1949 rape



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