RALEIGH, N.C. – Two brothers wrongfully imprisoned for three decades in the killing of an 11-year-old girl have reached a settlement with investigators who helped put them behind bars.
Henry McCollum and Leon Brown have sought an unspecified amount of money in damages from local and state law enforcement agents. Their motion filed Tuesday seeks a judge’s approval for a settlement that would end their lawsuit, which accused the authorities of violating their civil rights.
Details weren’t disclosed. Their lawyer, Patrick Megaro, asked to seal all related documents, and didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.
McCollum, 53, and Brown, 49, were freed from prison in 2014 after DNA evidence indicated that another man raped and killed the girl. They were later pardoned and awarded $750,000 each from the state through a separate process for wrongful convictions.
The half-brothers sued the Robeson County sheriff, who was a deputy at the time of the 1983 investigation, as well as state and local investigators. Several lawyers representing the defendants either didn’t return messages or declined comment.
McCollum was 19, Brown 15 when Sabrina Buie was killed in rural Robeson County. Their attorneys have said they were scared, had low IQs and were berated by investigators who fed them details about the crime before they signed confessions saying they were part of a group that killed the girl.
The civil lawsuit says both men were bullied and attacked by other inmates during their many years in prison.