After 31 Years In Prison, Brothers Receive Pardons

Jun 4, 2015

Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are getting full pardons from the Governor after spending more than three decades in prison. The victim in this case was Sabrina Buie. In 1983 the 11-year-old girl was raped and murdered in Robeson County.  Brothers McCollum and Brown were tried and convicted for the murders. They never stopped declaring their innocence. Six years ago their case was reopened, and in 2014 the men were exonerated, due in part to DNA evidence. On Thursday Gov. Pat McCrory granted pardons, after months of review.

Statement from the Henry McCollum and Leon Brown:

"For the 31 years we were imprisoned for a crime we did not commit, we never lost faith that justice would prevail and that God, our family and our supporters would set us free. Today, that dream was realized by Governor Pat McCrory. The Governor's granting of our pardons of innocence today proves that the State of North Carolina has a genuine commitment to justice. We are so grateful for the Governor granting us a new lease on life, for our family and those who believed in our innocence, and all of the lawyers who worked so hard to get us here today. Today we put the past behind us with not just a clear conscience, but a clear name, committed to living a good life and doing God's work. We give special thanks for our sister Geraldine, who has never stopped believing and devoting her life to bringing us home, and Patrick Michael Megaro, our attorney. We pray that justice will again prevail and the real murderer is punished justly for his crimes, and we also pray for the victim's family that they find justice and peace."

Statement from Patrick Michael Megaro, lawyer for McCollum and Brown:

"On behalf of myself and my clients, we humbly thank Governor Pat McCrory for granting my clients pardons of innocence and forever clearing their names. My clients and I thank all of our supporters and recognize the hard work and sacrifice of all of the attorneys who worked to make this dream a reality, the hard work of the Innocence Inquiry Commission, and most especially, Governor McCrory and his staff who devoted many hours of careful consideration in arriving at a fair and just decision, giving credence to the motto of the great State of North Carolina esse quam videri which means "To be, rather than to seem."

Statement from Governor Pat McCrory:

"Today, I announce that I am granting pardons of innocence to Henry McCollum and Leon Brown. As with all pardons of innocence, both pardon applications for Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown were thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency, my legal team, and the Clemency Committee. Many individuals were contacted and interviewed, and I met personally with Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown.  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. 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."

Granting the pardon enables each man to collect up to $750,000 for the unjust imprisonment.