Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Henry Lee McCollum

First Name Henry Lee
Last NameMcCollum
Year of Conviction1984
Year of Exoneration2014
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionNorth Carolina
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeRape and Murder
Death SentenceYes
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Informant
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Met victim at little red house near ballpark ● Culprits brought six-pack of Bull Malt Liquor Schlitz, 16-ounce cans to murder scene and drank them. ● Took victim across bean field ● Picked up six foot long board (found with blood stains on it) ● Victim naked laying on board ● victim choked with own panties on a stick (consistent with what medical examiner found) and he "got up and demonstrated" how this was done ● Victim cut with knife ● Body dragged in bean field ● Victim’s white blouse had "a little flower on it" ● Two culprits smoked Newport cigarettes ● marked location of the rape and murder on a map BUT Excluded by fingerprints found on beer cans

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

“Now, … at that point in time did you know anything about a board? A. I did not.” "[D]id you know anything about the Schlitz Bull Malt Liquor beer or a plastic holder for beer cans? A. No, sir. I had never been to the crime scene.” During the interrogation, “He got up and demonstrated” how victim was choked. “We didn’t have to use any technique. He was cooperative from the time we picked him up.” “I didn’t ask him questions. He would volunteer some things and I would ask him some things.”

Quotes from prosecution arguments

“We know that the stick was broken in [the victim’s] neck because we found part of the stick still remaining in her throat, wrapped in the panties.” “The lawyer stood up here and argued to you that the officers, by some sort of foul means, pulled this confession out of these two defendants. Is that what their evidence is? Their evidence is that they never made a statement of any kind and that the officer just sat down and made up these statements… Now, come on folks. They must think you were born yesterday to swallow something like that."

Interrogation RecordedWritten and signed confession statement
Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessIW
Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Coerced Confession
  • Confrontation Clause
  • Improper Capital Sentencing Instructions
  • Jury Selection
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • Speedy Trial claim
  • State Law Evidence Claim
Claims granted, resulting in preexon. reversal
  • Jury Instructions
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. McCollum, 364 S.E.2d 112 (NC 1988)
State v. McCollum, 433 S.E.2d 144 (NC 1993)

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