A North Carolina judge has ordered the release of Floyd Brown, a mentally disabled man incarcerated for 14 years without a trial in connection with a murder, reports the Denver Post. The Post featured Brown’s story and the disappearance of key evidence from his case in “Trashing the Truth,” a series about the loss and destruction of physical evidence from criminal investigations. Shortly after the story’s publication in July, Brown filed for his immediate release. Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson dismissed the case against him yesterday.
Brown – now 43 – was arrested in 1993, a week after the murder of a woman in rural Anson County. No witnesses and no physical evidence tied him to the scene. The only link was a so-called “confession” that reads nothing like Brown, who is mentally retarded and struggles to express even the most basic thoughts. He has been confined to a mental institution for 14 years without a trial because judges and psychiatrists deemed him unfit to assist in his own defense.