Red Springs, NC, United States (4E) – An inmate was set free Wednesday after spending 30 years in a North Carolina prison for crimes he and his brother did not commit.
Henry McCollum, 50, stepped out of the Central Prison in Raleigh at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, a day after a judge in Robeson County overturned his conviction and ordered him and his brother, Leon Brown, 46, freed because DNA found in the crime scene was not theirs.
McCollum’s family, friends and lawyers greeted him outside the prison. His parents embraced him
“Ain’t no anger in my heart,” McCollum said of police and prosecutors after his release, according to ABC 11. “I forgive those people and stuff, but I don’t like what they’ve done to me and my brother because they took 30 years away from me for no reason, but I don’t hate them. I don’t hate them one bit.”
The brothers were convicted for the 1983 killing and rape of 11-year-old Robeson County girl Sabrina Buie. A cigarette butt was among the evidence police found in a soybean field where Buie’s naked body was seen and DNA on the butt did not belong to McCollum and Brown.
Lawyers for the Center for Death Penalty Litigation (CDPL), which represents the brothers in their re-trial, said the DNA belongs to another rape convict, Roscoe Artis, 74, who is serving a life sentence for the rape and killing of an 18-year-old woman just a few miles away from where Buie’s body was found.
CDPL attorneys also said McCollum and Brown, who were 19 and 15 at the time of the crime, both have the intelligence of a fourth grader and they were forced to confess after hours of questioning by police.