Two North Carolina men who have been behind bars for 30 years, one of them on death row, will go before a judge on Tuesday morning to present new DNA evidence of their innocence of the murder and rape for which they were convicted as teenagers in 1984.
Lawyers representing Henry McCollum, who faces execution, and his half-brother Leon Brown, serving a life sentence for the brutal 1983 killing of an 11-year-old girl, will call for the pair to be released and cleared of all convictions. They will show the court recent DNA test results that exclude both men as the source of biological material gathered at the crime scene but record a positive match to the genetic profile of another man who has a long criminal record for sexual offences in the area.
The other man, Roscoe Artis, is serving a life sentence for a separate yet remarkably similar rape and murder that occurred in the same small town of Red Springs three weeks after McCollum and Brown were arrested. Artis was living at the time a few hundred feet from the field in which the body of the 11-year-old girl, Sabrina Buie, was found.
The hearing, which is scheduled to last several days, is the first major opportunity for McCollum, now 50, and Brown, 46, to prove the innocence they have always professed. Brown’s attorney, James Payne, said they were hopeful that at the very least both men will be released pending a new trial, though he added that in his view the DNA evidence was strong enough to have them immediately exonerated.
Source: The Guardian, September 2, 2014