• Henry McCollum and Leon Brown spent 31 years in prison after being wrongfully accused in 1983
  • They were released from prison in 2014 after being given full pardon of innocence
  • They brought the civil case against law enforcement members in 2015

Two death-row inmates in North Carolina were awarded $75 million in damages Friday after being wrongfully convicted for the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl in 1983.

In a federal civil rights case, the North Carolina Jury decided that the intellectually disabled half-brothers Henry McCollum and Leon Brown should be awarded $31 million each for spending decades behind the bar on death row. Each of the brothers is set to receive $1 million for every year they spent in prison after they were wrongfully convicted, reported The News & Observer.

The two were exonerated and released from prison in 2014 after new evidence based on DNA analysis pointed the police toward a convicted murder. By that time, McCollum had already served 31 years in prison on death row, making him North Carolina's longest-serving inmate, AP News said in a report.

"For more than 37 years, Henry McCollum and Leon Brown have waited for recognition of the grave injustice that law enforcement inflicted upon them," the brothers' attorneys said in a collective statement after the trial. "Today, a jury did just that, and have finally given Henry and Leon the ability to close this horrific chapter in their lives."

McCollum and Brown brought the civil case against law enforcement members in 2015. They argued that their civil rights had been violated during the interrogations that led to their convictions. According to the attorneys, McCollum and Browns, who were 19 and 15 back then, were scared teenagers with low IQs and were coerced into confessing by the police in 1983.

Robeson County Sheriff's Office, one of the defendants named in the civil suit, settled its part of the case for $9 million Friday. In 2017, the town of Red Spring, which originally named in the civil suit, settled for $1 million.

Friday's judgment came against former SBI agents Leroy Allen and Kenneth Snead, who were part of the original investigation in 1983 that led to McCollum and Brown's conviction.

Some of the lawyers were convinced that the $75 million judgment was the largest for a case of wrongful conviction in the state's history, according to The News & Observer.

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