BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (StarNewsOnline.com) — One of two men released from prison Wednesday after serving 30 years for a child murder they didn't commit will live with his family in Bolivia.
Leon Brown, 46, and his brother Henry McCollum, 50, were exonerated by DNA three decades after being sentenced to die for the 1983 rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in Red Springs. Brown's sentence was later changed to life in prison, but McCollum was North Carolina's longest serving inmate on death row. Both brothers are intellectually disabled. When convicted, McCollum was 19, and Brown was 15.
On Tuesday, Robeson County Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser dismissed the charges against Brown and McCollum following a hearing where an investigator with the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission detailed the results of new DNA testing of items found at the crime scene, said Brown's attorney James Payne, a Wilmington death-penalty certified lawyer who handles a number of high-profile cases in the Cape Fear region. Brown's other attorney was Ann Kirby of the Public Defender's Office in Pitt County. McCollum was represented by Ken Rose and Vernetta Alston, attorneys at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation in Durham.