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The Groveland Four

Posted on Tales of a Bail Bondsman September 17, 2019 by Peggy DiPirro

Historical Crime in Lake County, Florida

In the southern part of Lake County is the city of Groveland which holds a very dark and horrific true story that was written about in newspapers throughout the country and played a large part in the development of civil rights.

historical crime in florida

In the southern part of Lake County is the city of Groveland which holds a very dark and horrific true story that was written about in newspapers throughout the country and played a large part in the development of civil rights.

In 1949, four black Florida men were accused of raping a young white woman near Groveland, but without reasonable evidence.

Regardless, the community took it upon themselves to decide these men were guilty without a trial. Three of the men who were accused confessed to the accusations after they could no longer stand the torture from their accusers. The fourth man accused somehow eventually escaped but was later killed by an angry mob that took matters into their own hands.

The three men who confessed to the crime were originally charged and incarcerated by an all-white jury.

One man was given a life sentence due to his age (he was only 16 years old) while the other two were given the death penalty. However, an appeal for those sentenced was issued with the help of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund through the Supreme Court and the original verdicts were overturned in 1951. Sadly, Groveland’s local sheriff and deputy shot both men several months later claiming it was in self-defense because both tried to escape. This took place while the men were being transported for the new trial. One of the prisoners was killed. The other survived and was eventually able to testify to the FBI that he and the other prisoner were both shot needlessly. Neither had attempted to escape.

The one remaining prisoner was able to receive another trial, but was convicted a second time by another all-white jury.

He was sentenced to death. Although, in 1955 a new Governor reduced the man’s sentencing to life in prison. By 1968, the prisoner was released on parole and by the beginning of the following year, he passed away.

The family of the men who were wrongly accused, severely abused and cheated out of fair trials received an apology from both the City of Groveland and Lake County officials. All four men (though no longer with us) were exonerated in April of 2017 by the Florida House of Representatives.

VIDEO: Florida Lawmakers Apologize to Family of ‘Groveland Four’

 

 

RELATED: The Lobster Boy Murders 

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