The four Black men who were wrongfully charged with raping a 17-year-old white girl in 1949 have been exonerated in the state of Florida 72 years later. The group has been dubbed the “Groveland Four.”

According to CNN, Circuit Court Judge Heidi Davis in Lake County, Florida, posthumously dismissed the indictments of Ernest Thomas and Samuel Shepherd and vacated the convictions of  Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee. The four wrongfully convicted men have already passed away.

Greenlee, Irvin, Shepherd, and Thomas were accused of sexually assaulting Norma Padgett in Groveland, Florida, at the peak of Jim Crow-era Florida. Shortly after they were charged in 1949, Thomas was killed by a racist mob and shot over 400 times. The Mayor of Groveland at the time fatally shot Shepherd as he drove them to a second trial and claimed self-defense. Irvin said that he shot him in cold blood. 

In 2017, the Florida House issued a posthumous apology to the Groveland Four, and in 2019 Gov. Ron DeSantis issued full posthumous pardons to the men as well.

“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,” DeSantis said. “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.”

Charles Greenlee’s daughter, Carol Greenlee, issued an emotional statement Monday morning after the news of her father’s exoneration was revealed.

“I would not hate, but I will love and embrace all of those who did not know at the time that my father was a caring and loving and compassionate person that did not rape anybody,” she said. “I stand here today to say thank you.”

Greenlee, who was just 16 years old when he was charged, died in 2012 at the age of 78.