North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigations has agreed to compensate two men who spent a combined 31 years behind bars, reported the
Floyd Brown, a mentally disabled man charged with murder, who spent 14 years in jails and psychiatric hospitals because he was found incompetent to stand trial, will receive $7.85 million. DNA testing couldn’t be conducted in Brown’s case because critical evidence was lost by the local Sheriff’s Office. According to his attorneys, authorities fabricated Brown’s confession and ignored clues of an alternate suspect. Charges were dismissed against Brown in 2007, and a judge ordered him released from Dorothea Dix Mental Hospital.
Greg Taylor, who spent 14 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit before being declared innocent in 2010, will receive $4.625 million. Taylor was the first person cleared by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission process, which offers an official route to review and exoneration for prisoners who claim they were wrongly convicted. Blood evidence pointing toward his innocence was never introduced by investigators at trial.
Attorney General Roy Cooper called the settlements an opportunity to move on.
“The SBI and other law enforcement agencies now have better interrogation methods and lab reporting practices than were used in the 1990s when the incidents at issue in these lawsuits occurred,” Cooper said in a statement Monday. “It was in the best interest of the state to settle these cases.”
But Brown’s lawyer, David Rudolf, said the settlements revealed deeper problems at the SBI.
“In each case, agents decided who was guilty and filled in the blanks to get a conviction,” Rudolf said.
Brown is now living with a caretaker and learning life skills for the mentally disabled. His only indulgence has been to ride in a BMW. Although he doesn’t drive, his caretaker drives him around in one, and he is perfectly content to sit behind the wheel when the car is parked, Rudolf said.
Taylor has settled into family life and plans to use the money for living expenses and to provide security for the daughter he was separated from for all of those years.
Taylor said the state agreeing to settle his claim is further indication that he’d been wronged. “The fact that they settled speaks for itself,” he said.
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