Finally vindicated

A North Carolina jury rendered a $75 million verdict in favor of our clients Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, two men who had been wrongfully convicted, sentenced to death, and spent 31 years in prison for a crime they did not commit.

DNA evidence exonerated the half-brothers in 2014. Thanks to our clients’ courage and the great work of our colleagues, a jury in the Eastern District of North Carolina returned a verdict totaling $75 million against the State Bureau of Investigation agents who violated our clients’ civil rights, resulting in their wrongful incarceration. Earlier the same day, the Robeson County, North Carolina Sheriff’s Department and two of its officers settled, agreeing to pay our clients an additional $9 million for their part in this miscarriage of justice and to avoid having the case go to the jury against them.

McCollum and Brown, both intellectually disabled, were convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of a young girl. McCollum was 19 and Brown was 15 when they were interrogated and were coerced into signing false confessions written by law enforcement officers. They were both sentenced to death, and McCollum was on death row for 31 years, becoming the longest serving death row inmate in North Carolina. Brown, who was 16 when he was convicted, became the youngest person on death row. The men were released in 2014 after DNA evidence uncovered by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission proved that a serial rapist and murderer—who lived 40 feet from the crime scene—had killed the 11-year-old.

The verdict is the largest in U.S. history in a wrongful conviction case.

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