Two North Carolina brothers were awarded $750,000 each in compensation today for the three decades they were wrongfully imprisoned in the killing of an 11-year-old girl. Henry McCollum, 51, appeared calm as a North Carolina commission formally awarded the money to him and half-brother Leon Brown, 47, during a hearing. Brown is in the hospital, suffering from health problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, and did not attend. McCollum and Brown were released last September after a judge threw out their convictions, citing new DNA evidence that points to another man in the 1983 rape and killing of Sabrina Buie. McCollum had been the longest-serving inmate on North Carolina's death row. Brown had been sentenced to life in prison.
McCollum, who has been living with his sister, said he is happy the money will enable him to support himself and help his family. "My family, they have struggled for years and years," he said. "It's hard out there for them, and I want to help them." Their attorney said the money will be put in a trust and invested so that the brothers can live off the earnings and won't have to work. In the months since their release, both men have had trouble adjusting to the outside world after spending most of their adult lives in prison. Money has been a problem, but McCollum has said the most important part of the pardon was having his name cleared. No physical evidence ever tied them to the crime.