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After serving 30 years behind bars for a crime they didn’t commit, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory granted pardons on Thursday to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two mentally disabled half-brothers who were exonerated last year of a 1983 murder, according to The Washington Post. Now, each of the two men are eligible to receive $750,000 in compensation from the state for their wrongful imprisonment.

From The Post:

Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown were convicted of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl named Sabrina Buie in 1983. The two men, who were teenagers at the time, were mentally disabled, and both eventually signed confessions that made up most of the evidence against them. (They said that they were coerced into signing these confessions.)

Both men were convicted of first-degree murder and rape and sentenced to death in 1984. Those convictions were vacated by the state Supreme Court a few years later, and during new trials, McCollum was sentenced to death again and Brown was sentenced to life in prison.

They continued arguing that they were innocent, and years later, DNA evidence found near the crime scene instead identified Roscoe Artis, who is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for a different murder.

Superior Court Judge Douglas B. Sasser ruled after a hearing in September that their sentences should be vacated “based on significant new evidence that they are in fact innocent” and that they should be released from prison, the Post says.

We hope McCollum and Brown can live out the rest of their lives in peace.


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