New DNA evidence exonerated death row inmate Henry Lee McCollum, 50, and his half-brother Leon Brown, 46, of a 1983 murder
Two half-brothers wrongly incarcerated for 30 years have been released and have had their convictions overturned after fresh DNA evidence vindicated them. Henry Lee McCollum, 50, who was on death row, and Leon Brown, 46, serving life, were arrested as teenagers in 1983 for the rape and murder of 11-year-old girl Sabrina Buie. The innocent North Caroliners, who are diagnosed with mental disabilities, were released after new evidence linked the killing to another man who lived just feet from the soybean field that the girl’s body was found in and who was around the same time imprisoned himself for raping and killing an 18-year-old woman. As the decision was announced by Superior Court Judge Douglas B Sasser yesterday, the men’s family erupted into applause and tears. According to the New York Times, the brothers, who were 19 [McCollum] and 15 [Brown] at the time, had no physical evidence linking them to the crime.
Dang. Thirty years in jail. THIRTY. YEARS. IN. JAIL. For a crime you didn’t commit. Can you even imagine what that must have felt like? I can’t. I’ve written before how I AM SCARED TO GO TO JAIL, that is one of my biggest fears. And if you didn’t even do the thing you’ve been sent to jail for that has to be the biggest mind-f**k ever. Like, you know you don’t belong there. I honestly don’t believe I would have survived that long without killing myself. And look how young these men were. Nineteen and Fifteen. How much have life could they even have experienced at that point, especially the fifteen year old? And now they’ve missed thirty years of living. Just imagine, one day you’re a fifteen year old kid, and the next thing you know you’re a forty five year old man, having missed thirty years by being in jail. What kind of life are these guys going to have now? How will they fit into society? Even assuming there’s a lawsuit (as there should be) and a very large settlement, how much is enough? Ten million? Thirty million? A hundred million? What makes up for the prime of your life being taken away from you? I can’t come up with a number that would seem worth it to me.
See, this is a perfect example of why I oppose the death penalty. Forget the pro or con morality of the concept, the only way it could possibly even be considered is if our justice system was 100% accurate and fair. But we know it’s not. The Innocence Project has overturned the conviction of over 300 people who were sentenced to death for crimes they didn’t commit, thanks to DNA testing. Imagine how many innocent people must have been wrongly put to death before DNA was available. It’s just not worth the risk, in my opinion.