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Two Brothers Convicted in a 1983 Murder They Did Not Commit Were Awarded $75m in Compensation

Rebelander Basilan
May 22, 2021
11:40 P.M.
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A DNA test found that Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were not responsible for the 1983 rape and murder of a girl. The two brothers recently received $75 million in damages.

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For almost 31 years, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were imprisoned for a brutal crime they didn't commit. These men were found guilty based on confessions they insisted were coerced for decades.

After nearly five hours of deliberations, a jury in a federal courtroom in Raleigh awarded the half-brothers $31 million each in compensatory damages, empowering them to finally move forward with their lives.

Henry McCollum hugging his cousin as he arrives in Fayetteville, N.C. on September 3, 2014.| Photo: Getty Images

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Additionally, McCollum and Brown have each been granted $1 million for every year they spent behind bars after being wrongfully convicted twice of raping and murdering an 11-year-old girl in 1983.

As teenagers, McCollum and Brown, who are both intellectually disabled with IQs in the 50s, were charged for signing confessions that they claimed they could not understand.

Leon Brown at the Robeson County Courthouse in Lumberton, N.C. on September 2, 2014. | Photo: Getty Images

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The brothers were also awarded $62 million in compensatory damages and a further $13 million in punitive damages after a $9 million settlement with the Robeson County Sheriff's Office.

Law enforcement members have been the target of a civil suit filed by McCollum and Brown since 2015.

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Following the trial, Raleigh attorney Elliot Abrams said that the first jury to hear all of the evidence has found McCollum and Brown innocent, and they were "demonstrably and excruciatingly wronged."

A statement issued by the brothers' legal team, Abrams included, stated that the decades-long wait was over for recognition of the grave injustice committed against them by law enforcement.

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Finally, a jury has secured justice for McCollum and Brown, allowing them to close this horrifying chapter in their lives, the statement added. They anticipate a better future with friends, family, and loved ones.

Law enforcement members have been the target of a civil suit filed by McCollum and Brown since 2015. During their interrogations, they claimed that their civil rights had been violated.

Henry McCollum at the Robeson County Courthouse in Lumberton, N.C. on September 2, 2014. | Photo: Getty Images

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McCollum and Brown were exonerated by DNA evidence that pointed to a criminally convicted murderer in 2014, giving them freedom. Today, there are still many innocent people in prison, McCollum said. 

McCollum and Brown's dramatic release now brings attention to the Red Springs police department. Red Springs is a small town in the southern part of the state with just 3,000 residents. 

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