Two Innocent Men Cleared Today in Separate Murder Cases in Mississippi, 15 Years after Wrongful Convictions
Kennedy Brewer, who served time on death row, is first post-conviction DNA exoneration in Mississippi; Levon Brooks’ conviction is thrown out and he is free
(NOXUBEE COUNTY, MS; February 15, 2008) – Two men who were wrongfully convicted of separate child murders in Noxubee County, Mississippi, were cleared in the crimes at a hearing this morning based on evidence proving their innocence. Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks, who are represented by the Innocence Project, have maintained their innocence for 15 years and were joined by more than 100 of their relatives at this morning’s hearing.
New evidence, which includes DNA testing and a confession, has identified the actual perpetrator in both cases, who was arrested last week. At today’s hearing, the case against Brewer was dismissed – making him the first person in Mississippi exonerated through post-conviction DNA testing. Brewer served time on death row. Brooks’ conviction was vacated and he was released from custody; Brooks will be fully exonerated when the indictment against him is dismissed, which the Innocence Project expects in the next few weeks.
“It has taken 15 long years, but Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks are finally free. The evidence clearly shows that they are innocent – what’s troubling is that their innocence has been clear for years, but they remained incarcerated while the true perpetrator was at large,” Innocence Project Co-Director Peter Neufeld said. “The system wasn’t just broken in these cases – different elements within the system actually conspired to convict two innocent men of heinous crimes, while the actual perpetrator remained at large. These cases should haunt Mississippi and the nation, and they should lead to a top-to-bottom review of how the state is investigating and prosecuting cases.”