North Carolina jury awards $75m to brothers wrongly convicted of 1983 murder

(The AEGIS Alliance) – A North Carolina jury federal civil rights case has awarded $75m to a pair of intellectually handicapped half-brothers that spent many years in prison after they were wrongfully found guilty of a 1983 rape as well as the murder of an age 11 girl.

On Friday, a jury of eight people determined Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, that are each Black men, must both receive $31 million in compensative damages, $1m for every single year spent behind bars, according to the News & Observer. The jury additionally granted them $13m in compensatory damages.

“The first jury to hear all of the evidence – including the wrongly suppressed evidence – found Henry and Leon to be innocent, found them to have been demonstrably and excruciatingly wronged, and has done what the law can do to make it right at this late date,” Raleigh lawyer Elliot Abrams stated after the trial. Abrams belonged to the brothers’ legal team.

McCollum and Brown have sought the civil claim against police members considering that in 2015, they argued their civil liberties had been violated throughout the investigations that brought about the two being convicted.

The pair were released from a penitentiary in 2014 after DNA proof that indicated a convicted killer vindicated them. They were teens when they had been charged with the unlawful act, which took place in Red Springs in Robeson County.

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Lawyers for the men have stated they were frightened teens that possessed low IQs when police questioned them and were pressured into making a confession. McCollum was at that point 19 years old, and Brown was 15. Both had been pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.

McCollum devoted the majority of his 31 years behind bars on death row, ending up being North Carolina’s longest-serving death row prisoner. Brown, that stated he struggles with psychological health and wellness problems associated with his time in jail and needs permanent care, had his sentence eventually changed to life behind bars.

On Friday, the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, among the defendants, resolved its own aspect of the case for $9m. The city of Red Springs initially named in the civil lawsuit, resolved in 2017 for $1m.

Friday’s judgment happened against previous SBI agents Leroy Allen and also Kenneth Snead, that took part in the original investigation.

Scott MacLatchie, the top defense lawyer for the SBI agents, tried during the course of his closing argument to call into question the brothers’ innocence, despite the two actually receiving full pardons.

“I’ve got my freedom,” McCollum stated. “There’s still a lot of innocent people in prison today. And they don’t deserve to be there.”

Jeffrey Childers – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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