On Thursday, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons denied a posthumous pardon for Daniel “Nealy” Duncan, who was hung 100 years ago for killing a Charleston merchant. Batt Humphreys, author of Dead Weight, made a case for Duncan both in his book and in court.
Dead Weight is based on the 1910 case of the State vs. Daniel Duncan. A young black man, Duncan was arrested on the eve of his wedding for allegedly killing Max Lubelsky. After the hanging, Charleston was hit by a major hurricane that became known as the Duncan Storm. Some believed that it was due to the hanging of an innocent man.
Humphreys submitted his petition for a pardon in 2008. “The pardon is a chance to correct an injustice and to restore honor, even if it never connects to his immediate family,” he said in a release. “For those who believe in the continuity of souls, somewhere he will know and somehow we will have helped restore what was taken from him.”
Many people, including Mayor Joseph Riley, backed up Humphreys. In a public release, Riley said, “The history of Charleston spans centuries, yet those of us who cherish history must acknowledge our responsibility to it. There are reasons to believe Daniel Duncan is innocent. Where there is doubt, there is darkness. With a pardon, we would seek to shine a better light.”
Alas, the board was split in half when the final decision was reached. A majority vote was required to pardon Duncan.