North Carolina brothers wrongly detained receive $ 75 million in severance pay
The two brothers – both mentally retarded – spent nearly 31 years behind bars after being forced to confess to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl.
Two brothers from North Carolina reach a $ 75 million settlement after serving nearly 31 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit.
The News & Observer reports that the men identified as Henry McCollum and Leon Brown were convicted in 1983 of the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl. Both brothers are mentally impaired and have IQs that were tested in their 50s.
For years the men insisted that they be forced to confess. And for years her lawyers insisted that the brothers had been tricked into making signed confessions that they did not understand.
The eight-person trial jury awarded McCollum and Brown $ 31 million each in damages – $ 1 million for every year they spent in prison, according to News & Observer.
The jury awarded an additional $ 13 million in punitive damages after the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, one of the defendants named in the complaint, settled its part on the case for an additional $ 9 million.
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In total, Brown and McCollum received $ 75 million in damages, plus the additional $ 9 million for a grand total of $ 84 million.
“I thank God,” said McCollum in an emotional statement outside the courthouse.
McCollum and Brown, according to the News & Observer, spent the post-settlement moments hugging their attorneys from the Washington, DC-based law firm Hogan Lovells, who represented the brothers in their years of struggle for justice.
“The first jury to hear all of the evidence – including the wrongly suppressed evidence – found that Henry and Leon were innocent, that they had demonstrably and excruciatingly wronged, and did what the law can do to correct it Time to get it right. Said attorney Elliot Abrams, who helped fight the brothers’ case.
The Associated Press notes that McCollum and Brown were released from prison in 2014 after DNA evidence exonerated them.
The brothers, who are black, were caught by police in 1983 based on rumors that they might have been involved in the rape and murder of a young girl.
North Carolina then prosecuted both men on the basis of their written confessions – confessions made by law enforcement officers that the brothers then pressured into signing.
McCollum served most of his 31-year sentence on death row, while Brown’s sentence was later commuted to life in prison. They filed a lawsuit shortly after their discharge in 2014.
“For more than 37 years, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown have waited for recognition of the grave injustice inflicted on them by law enforcement,” the men’s legal team said at a press conference following the settlement. “Today a jury did just that and finally gave Henry and Leon the opportunity to close this terrible chapter in their lives.”
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