RALEIGH — Two men convicted in the 1983 rape and murder of a Red Springs girl have been granted pardons of innocence by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Leon Brown and Henry McCollum were freed from prison in September after a judge overturned the convictions against them. The half-brothers have awaited the pardon, which allows them to collect compensation for their wrongful imprisonment, since pardon applications were received by McCrory on Sept. 15.
Brown and McCollum were convicted in 1984 of raping and killing 11-year-old Sabrina Buie, and the murder charge against Brown was later dropped. No physical evidence had tied the men to the crime, and lawyers for the men alleged that confessions they gave law enforcement had been coerced.
The pardons make McCollum and Brown eligible to $50,000 for every year they were imprisoned, up to a $750,000 cap.
“It is difficult for anyone to know for certain what happened the night of Sabrina Buie’s murder. My deepest sympathies go out to the family of Sabrina Buie for what they have endured,” McCrory said in a statement.
“I know there are differing opinions about this case and who is responsible. This has been a comprehensive and thoughtful process during the past nine months. Based on the available evidence I’ve reviewed, I am granting pardons of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown. It’s the right thing to do.”