DNA testing has proven to be an invaluable tool in the exoneration of innocent American citizens and today, once again, we are witness to a pair of brothers from North Carolina who are being awarded their freedom after decades of injustice.
Half-brothers Henry McCollum, 50, and Leon Brown, 46, were reportedly a pair of real-life Forrest Gumps in 1983 when they were coerced to sign written confessions to the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl. Neither teens had a lawyer present at the time of their interrogations. McCollum was so oblivious to what he had done, he actually tried to walk out of the police station after he had signed the confession.
The case has been a high-profile matter in the state and the Center for Death Penalty Litigation began pushing for DNA evidence to back up the convictions. Especially in the case of McCollum, who had been sentenced to death. Seventeen-year-old Sabrina Buie had been found dead in a soybean field with her panties stuffed in her mouth, but none of DNA present were a match for McCollum or Brown.
However, it did lead them to another suspect: Roscoe Artis, who is currently serving a life sentence for a crime similar to Buie’s. Artis actually befriended the brothers in prison and attests to their innocence, but the same clarity can not be stated for his whereabouts on the day Buie was murdered. District Attorney Jonson Britt noted that Artis lived next to the soybean field and was accused of rape before his conviction but somebody obviously fumbled the ball in prosecuting him.
Both McCollum and Brown are expected to be released later today. Expect a civil lawsuit against the state to follow. Hit the next page to see video of them being exonerated in court.
Photos: North Carolina Prison System