Man exonerated by DNA after 30 years in prison to live in Bolivia

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Submitted: Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:58am
Updated: Fri, 10/10/2014 - 2:23am

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC ( — 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.

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  • Rebel With a Cause says:

    Sad to think these 2 innocent men spent 30 years of their lives behind bars for something they did not do. Even worse to think one or both could have had their lives taken from them. Makes one wonder how many other people are confined in prison or have been executed for something they didn’t do. Wonder if Al and Jesse might want to dig into their pockets to help these fellows get started out in life, again? I suppose they will get a nice settlement from the State of NC.

  • Soulsis says:

    Never mind Al and Jessie. Y dont you dig into your pockets and help them. Thirty years ago a racist system of justice was in place; and it is that racist system that convicted these innocent young boys. Here is your chance to right the sins of your fathers.

  • Rebel With a Cause says:

    If you had half a brain, you would understand that taxpayers (of which I am one) will end up paying restitution for 30 years to two people. Maybe you should dig into your pocket since you probably don’t pay any taxes. I never caused oppression for anyone and am not responsible for what someone else did.

  • portcity says:

    Doesn’t matter if it was 30 years ago or yesterday. You would still play the race card. Get over it and move on. Right now there a few fathers out robbing, shooting or raping in the in the hood. Yes it goes on everywhere but happens more in the black neighborhoods. SO lets right the present? And stop these fathers actions now who’s sons will be punished for later in life.

  • Tweety13 says:

    Two people spent thirty years in prison
    For a crime they didn’t commit where is
    The color in that .Was race a factor maybe
    The fact remains two men could have
    List there lives and whomever did commit
    The rape and murder are probably still working
    Around.With a little reserach you will be sur-
    prised that there are all races of people convicted
    Of a crime that are innocent .Maybe you are
    The one that needs to give up the race card.

  • Brenda says:

    I am very glad these two men are FREE. My question is where are the investigator(s) that interrogated these men all those years ago. After hours of interrogation they admit to a crime, because 5 hours of interrogation on a intellectually impaired individual is like 25 hours of being badgered. The investigator(s) should be PUNISHED for what they have done. This is not fair and is a horrendous crime against these two men. Rest assured if our JUDICIAL system WON’T do anything to the investigator(s) then the person(s) involved will stand before the LORD on judgment day and will suffer the consequences of their actions. I highly suggest you repent now before it is to late. The family however if I am not mistaken can take the investigator(s) to civil court. Maybe an attorney who would like to do a good deed could help this family. My heart just breaks for these men and their families for all they have lost over the last 30 years. Think about what turmoil these two men went through in prison. Such a shame. So glad they are home now.

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