Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Death Row inmate freed after 30 years thanks to new DNA evidence

One of death-row's longest serving inmates has been freed after 30 years in prison, thanks to new DNA evidence proving he did not commit the rape and murder he was jailed for.
Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown were just teenagers when they were convicted of the 1983 rape and killing of 11-year-old Sabrina Buie is North Carolina.
Mr McCollum is the US state's longest serving death-row prisoner, while Mr Brown's sentence was reduced to life in prison for rape after a second trial.

But both men have now been freed after DNA on a cigarette butt linked another man to the crime.
Mr McCollum's lawyer Ken Rose said: "This is a tragedy. He's thankful to God that this day has come."
Mr Brown and Mr McCollum were 15 and 19 when they signed detailed confessions written by police.
But they later said they had been coerced into doing so with promises of release during intense interrogations, and court records show both men are intellectually disabled with limited reading and writing abilities.

No DNA collected at the crime scene was linked to either of the men, and evidence presented to the court last week included a DNA match from a cigarette found near Sabrina's body with another man, Roscoe Artis.
Artis was later sentenced to death for a similar rape and murder in the same town. He had been living with his sister at the time of Sabrina's murder, in a house next to the field where she was found, and had a long history of assaulting women.
He was convicted of raping and murdering an 18-year-old girl a month later and, now 74, is serving a life sentence.
In an interview from prison, Mr McCollum said he had never given up hope that he would one day be found innocent.
He said: "Me and my brother lost 30 years for no reason at all.
"I have never stopped believing that one day I would be able to walk out of that door."

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