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Law

Wrongfully Convicted Men Receive Financial Compensation

Henry McCollum, left, spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days on death row. Leon Brown was imprisoned at the age of 15 and spend the first decade in solitary confinement. In 2014 the men were released after DNA evidence implicated another man.
Courtesy of Patrick Megaro
Henry McCollum (left) spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days on death row. Leon Brown was imprisoned at the age of 15 and spend the first decade in solitary confinement. In 2014 the men were released after DNA evidence implicated another man.

Two North Carolina men who were wrongfully convicted of murder and spent 30 years in prison are receiving financial compensation. Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown are each getting $750,000 from the state. The men were released a year ago after DNA evidence helped to exonerate them. Henry McCollum said no amount of money can make up for the lost time. The 51-year-old is hoping to make the most of his future.

"Well for one thing I would like to go to driving school - learn how to drive. I also, I'd like to go to Florida, to go to Disneyworld," McCollum said Wednesday afternoon.

Listen to Geraldine Brown, the sister of Leon Brown, and Henry McCollum talk about receiving financial compensation from the state below:
 

The men were arrested, tried and convicted for the 1983 rape and murder of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie in Robeson County. The two men each spent 30 years, 11 months and seven days in prison. McCollum served the entire time on death row. He had 42 cell mates and friends who were executed during that time.

McCollum calls the decision on compensation bittersweet. His half-brother Leon Brown is in the hospital receiving mental health treatment. Brown spent a decade in solitary confinement and was sexually assault in prison.

"It hurts," shared Geraldine Brown, Leon's sister. "It really hurts me. I'm not happy right now. I'm destroyed. I'm destroyed."

Brown was on multiple medications during his incarceration. Upon his release all medical treatment stopped immediately.

Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown were released one year ago Thursday after DNA evidence helped to exonerate them. In June Governor Pat McCrory issued pardons, opening the door for financial compensation. The state allows for $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, up to 15 years. The men were in prison for 30 years, 11 months and seven days. A federal lawsuit was filed this week against Robeson County for the way law enforcement officials handled this case.
 

Jeff Tiberii is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Jeff joined WUNC in 2011. During his 20 years in public radio, he was Morning Edition Host at WFDD and WUNC’s Greensboro Bureau Chief and later, the Capitol Bureau Chief. Jeff has covered state and federal politics, produced the radio documentary “Right Turn,” launched a podcast, and was named North Carolina Radio Reporter of the Year four times.
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