Today's Raleigh News & Observer publishes the editorial, "NC brothers are cleared after system failed." Here's the beginning of this must-read:
The chain of evidence that freed Henry McCollum and his half-brother Leon Brown after 30 years in North Carolina prisons was a chain of delicate links.
If the man now suspected of the 1983 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl hadn’t smoked, if an investigator had not stooped to collect a discarded cigarette butt found in the bean field near the victim’s body, if the evidence had not been kept over the decades, if the N.C Innocence Inquiry Commission had not been formed and its staff had not decided to act on Brown’s request to have his case reviewed, if the DNA on the cigarette had not matched Roscoe Artis – a man convicted of a similar rape and murder in the same Red Springs area – the brothers would be still in the prisons they left this week. Henry McCollum would still be on death row. Leon Brown would be serving life.
It is a great thing that these random acts and decisions joined against high odds to free the brothers. But it is also disturbing to consider how close this proof came to never surfacing and how many other people have been wrongly convicted and never redeemed by such rare good fortune. In the United States since 1989, 312 people convicted of crimes have been exonerated by DNA evidence.
"Freed pair will seek pardons; Could then seek compensation," is the AP report by Jonathan Drew, via the Robesonian
Henry McCollum and Leon Brown are planning to ask for pardons after they were freed this week from North Carolina prisons following the discovery of evidence that they didn’t kill a young girl 30 years ago.
Vernetta Alston, an attorney for McCollum, says lawyers representing him and Brown, his half brother, are preparing petitions for a pardon of innocence and plan to file within the next couple of weeks. McCollum was freed from death row after three decades, while Brown had been serving a life sentence.
If the men are pardoned, they would be eligible to claim compensation under a state law that allows up to $750,000 for people wrongly convicted of felonies. Alston said Brown and McCollum had not yet explicitly discussed petitioning for compensation.
"McCrory praises vacated convictions," is by Joseph Neff in the News & Observer.
Gov. Pat McCrory said he was pleased by recent headlines about the exonerations of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown, who were freed this week after almost 31 years in prison.
"Yesterday, I was heartened to see the convictions of Henry McCollum and Leon Brown vacated by the court," McCrory said in a statement released Thursday. "My office has a process in place to review applications for pardons of innocence. If they apply, we will begin reviewing their applications as soon as they are received."
"That's awesome," said Vernetta Alston, attorney for Henry McCollum. Alston said she has begun the pardon application.
"We're thrilled the governor has sentiments that echo what the district attorney said and the court found, that these fellows are innocent," said James Payne, a laywer for Leon Brown.
The Fayetteville Observer reports, "Sabrina Buie's family stunned by release of two men convicted of killing her in 1983," by Nathan Hardin.
Buie was 4 years old when her sister was found in the field half-naked and choked to death by her underwear.
Reliving the murder investigation of her sister, Buie said, is nearly unbearable.
"It's the worst nightmare you could ever imagine," she said.
Buie declined to go into detail about the court's decision or the two men convicted 30 years earlier, but she said the ruling and timing of the hearing - near the anniversary of Sabrina's death - was especially painful.
Earlier coverage of the North Carolina exonerations begins at the link.