COLUMBIA -- South Carolina officials on Wednesday refused to pardon a black man executed a century ago for the death of a white shopkeeper, but supporters said they might be willing to renew the request next year. The Probation, Parole and Pardon Services board voted 3-3 on the request to grant a posthumous pardon to Daniel "Nealy" Duncan. Five members would have had to approve the pardon for it to be granted. Investigators questioned a half-dozen black men but couldn't find a suspect in the death of Max Lubelsky, a shopkeeper killed in his store on downtown Charleston's King Street in 1910. The Evening Post newspaper proclaimed it "the most dastardly and sensational crime that has happened in Charleston in several years." Two weeks after the killing, Lubelsky's widow was attacked in the same store, and two white men quickly grabbed Duncan, who was walking on the street nearby as the woman staggered out. Duncan had a severe speech impediment, which no one who fingered him as the killer pointed out. There was no physical evidence, but Duncan was convicted in about an hour and hanged nine months later, in 1911. After moving back to South Carolina from New York, former CBS news producer Batt Humphreys said he became intrigued by Duncan's story and began to believe the young man had been railroaded by Jim Crow-era police hungry to pin the crime on a black man. Humphreys delved into trial transcripts, becoming increasingly convinced that Duncan's case deserved a second look. "There was so much that was taken from him," said Humphreys, who filed the request for a posthumous pardon and has written "Dead Weight," a novel based on Duncan's case. "There was an extreme sense of grace about this young man that I didn't fully understand. ... His last words were, 'I'm innocent. I'll see you all in heaven."' The story of Duncan's execution - and his supposed innocence - has been passed down as folkloric legend among members of Mother Emanuel AME Church, the downtown Charleston parish of which Duncan had been a member. The Rev. L. Ruffin Nichols, church pastor during Duncan's lifetime, visited the man daily before his execution. One of Nichols' descendants, Kay Hightower, told the pardon board Wednesday that she remembered her grandfather - Nichols' son - recounting the stories his own father had told him about Duncan. "Daniel Duncan was innocent," said Hightower, who attended the hearing with her daughter, 10-year-old Bailey. "His innocence has been passed down through my family for years. ... Daniel Duncan told the truth to my great-grandfather." None of Lubelsky's relatives appeared at Wednesday's hearing, but they did submit comments opposing Duncan's pardon. Those comments were not made available to media, and a working phone number for relatives in the Charleston area could not be found. After the hearing, Humphreys said he was disappointed by the board's denial but was optimistic his efforts would be successful next year, when he plans to file another request for a pardon. "Two years in this effort, there's been a lot of emotional investment," Humphreys said. "There's always reason to hope," he said. "Hope is why we came here in the first place."