More than 30 years after a federal appeals court dismissed their convictions, the Wilmington 10 and their families and supporters finally have tasted a bit of real justice: Gov. Bev Perdue has pardoned the original defendants.
For four of those who were accused, the action comes too little, too late. They have died since the case originated in 1971.
Most of the 10 people accused of firebombing a Wilmington grocery store were high school students when the charges originally were filed, and the trial that followed was a travesty.
Three key witnesses who were instrumental in the defendants’ convictions all recanted their testimonies in 1976. The prosecution’s racial profiling of jurors included notes that said “stay away from black men.”
It’s hard to imagine how anyone could have construed the original case as anything close to a process that was fair and impartial.
It should not have taken so long for the names of the original defendants to have been cleared, but we’re glad to see Perdue to act accordingly.
The clearance of the names of the original defendants will have only a small impact on the lives and reputations they have held since the original trial. But justice has been served, at last. For that, we can all be thankful.