Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Leon Brown

First Name Leon
Last NameBrown
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
Mentally Ill or Intellectually DisabledIntellectually Disabled
Types of evidence at trial
  • Confession
  • Informant
Were non-public facts alleged?Yes
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies

● Victim was raped, vaginally and anally ● Victim choked with panties balled up in a knot in her mouth (consistent with what medical examiner found) ● Victim left in ditch near woods and across bean field ● Victim’s clothes had been balled up and thrown into the woods BUT Excluded by fingerprints found on beer cans

Quotes from law enforcement testimony

Officer described telling Brown “I wanted to go over it because it was his statement, it was not mine… I read each line… I stopped at least 20 times and paused an asked him if that was correct, if that was right…”

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 signed statement
Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessIW
Highest level reachedAppeal
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Jury Instructions
  • Miranda
Claims granted, resulting in preexon. reversal
  • Jury Instructions
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. McCollum, 364 S.E.2d 112 (NC 1988)
State v. Brown, 436 S.E.2d 163 (NC 1993)
State v. Brown, 436 S.E.2d 163 (NC 1993)