By: Associated Press
January 11, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the independently-elected Cabinet granted a pardon to four African-American men accused of raping a white woman nearly 70 years ago.
The posthumous pardons were granted Friday for the men known as the Groveland Four.
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.
DeSantis replaced Scott as governor on Tuesday.
Governor DeSantis said in a statement on Friday, “For seventy years, these four men have had their history wrongly written for crimes they did not commit. As I have said before, while that is a long time to wait, it is never too late to do the right thing. I believe the rule of law is society’s sacred bond. When it is trampled, we all suffer. For the Groveland Four, the truth was buried. The Perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this. I would like to thank CFO Patronis, Attorney General Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Fried for their support.”