The defendant was a 17-year-old black man — rather, a boy who was 16 when he committed the crime and barely looked 13 even a year later — who had pleaded not guilty to armed robbery. According to the victim, who was also the only witness, he was one of three assailants and was definitely not the gunman. However, in the state of South Carolina, as in many other states, the “act of one is the act of all.” As a result, this young man, this boy who was nearly in tears as the jury was being picked, this child who dropped out of school in the ninth grade but through a job grew a fondness for cooking and was now working on his GED so he could gain early entry to a community college studying culinary arts, this poor kid who, if guilty, was likely put up to the crime by stronger boys who seemingly didn’t even give him a cut of the stolen merchandise, was facing a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. Adult prison. At 17 years old. He couldn’t have weighed more than 140 pounds.
Excerpted from Tux Life. Read the rest here.