At a hearing on Wednesday, the state of North Carolina formally approved payment of the maximum amount of compensation ($750,000 each) to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, half-brothers who spent more than 30 years in prison for a murder they did not commit.
McCollum and Brown were convicted in 1984 of the murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie. According to their attorneys, the brothers–then 19 and 15 respectively–were coerced into signing confessions after hours of interrogation during which police fed them information about the crime scene. The brothers were initially sentenced to death, but the state Supreme Court threw out their convictions in 1988 and ordered new trials. McCollum was again sentenced to death, while Brown was sentenced to life in prison.
McCallum and Brown were exonerated last year when testing of DNA from a cigarette butt at the scene of the crime matched to Roscoe Artis, an offender already serving life in prison for an array of similar violent crimes.
According to WRAL, although both brothers suffer from PTSD as a result of their three-decades-long ordeal, McCollum is doing well outside of prison, while his brother is hospitalized with severe mental illness.
“I’m happy one can go on,” their sister Geraldine Brown, told WRAL. “But I’m living a life where the other can’t go on.”
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