By Lindsey Bever, Washington Post, September 3, 2014
When 11-year-old Sabrina Buie was raped and murdered in 1983 in a small town in North Carolina, law students skipped classes to attend the trial. The crime quickly became one of the most notorious in the modern history of Robeson County. The convictions of two teenage boys was controversial — in part because the accused were mentally challenged. And the district attorney went down in history as one of the “deadliest prosecutors.”
Now three decades later, the convictions of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown have been tossed out.
On Tuesday, the verdicts were overturned in light of new DNA evidence linking the crime to another man in prison for a similar rape and murder. Superior Court Judge Douglas Sasser ordered them freed, “based on significant new evidence that they are, in fact, innocent.” And Tuesday night, McCollum, 50, one of state’s longest-serving death-row inmates, and his half-brother, Brown, 46, serving a life sentence, spent their last night behind bars.