Groveland Four granted pardons by Florida Clemency Board

In this undated image released by the State Library and Archives of Florida Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall far left and an unidentified man stand next to Walter Irvin Samuel Shepherd and Charles Greenlee from left in Florida. The three men along

In this undated image released by the State Library and Archives of Florida Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall far left and an unidentified man stand next to Walter Irvin Samuel Shepherd and Charles Greenlee from left in Florida. The three men along

None of the men, known as the Groveland Four, lived to see their acquittal.

The three other men were beaten to coerce confessions before they were convicted by an all white jury. But before the second trial could begin, they were attacked again.

Thomas was hunted down by a posse of more than 1,000 men shortly after the alleged incident and was shot hundreds of times.

"I hope that this will bring peace to their families and their communities", DeSantis said after the formal vote, which took place after his first Cabinet meeting as governor. He was shot 400 times when they found him sleeping under a tree.

The alleged victim, who was 17 at the time, insisted during Friday's hearing that she had told the truth and opposed the pardons before they were granted.

Just before those trials began, Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall shot Irvin and Shepherd, claiming the handcuffed men tried to escape as he transferred them from prison to a jail.

In 2017, the state House and Senate voted unanimously to formally apologize to the men's families and asked then-Gov. Scott, now a U.S. senator, never took action. The group came to be called the "Groveland Four".

Following their arrests they were convicted, two were sentenced to death, and when the case was appealed and overturned by the Supreme Court, one was shot dead at roadside by then Lake County Sheriff Willis McCall.

Greenlee was paroled in 1960 and died in 2012.

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Newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statement on the pardons.

"My father was tortured, he was hung down in the basement over a hot pipe by his hands", said Carol Greenlee, Charles Greenlee's daughter. The Perpetrators celebrated. But justice has cried out from that day until this.

Surrounded by her sons, Norma Padgett, the accuser of the Groveland Four, hits her fist on the table and pleads with the clemency board not to pardon the Groveland Four.

"Y'all just don't know what kind of horror I've been through for all these many years, " she said. "I know (Robinson) called me a liar, but I'm not no liar".

"If they held a gun to my mother's head and done the things she said they done, they deserve it", said Upshaw in a phone interview Thursday. We have no hate against her because we were taught differently, " he said.

"A great injustice has finally been corrected. I would like to thank CFO Patronis, Attorney General Moody and Agriculture Commissioner Fried for their support".

Until now, Florida's executive clemency board, the state's only body with pardon-granting authority, had refused to address the Groveland case, despite a decades-long fight by the men's relatives and supporters to clear their names. I also want to commend Senator Gary Farmer, Representative and former Senator Geraldine Thompson, and Representative Bobby DuBose, whose persistent legislative actions were the impetus for the outcome today.

Lake County Property Appraiser Carey Baker, a former state lawmaker, said the four men couldn't get "true justice" because the process at the time "was so egregiously flawed" and the "actions of local law enforcement so awful".

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