The State Bureau of Investigation and its insurers have awarded $7.85 million to Floyd Brown of Wadesboro, a mentally retarded man who was wrongly imprisoned for 14 years. Brown also reached a settlement with the Anson County Sheriff’s Office, but those documents have been sealed by a federal judge.
Brown was arrested for the murder of retired school teacher Katherine Lynch in 1993. According to extensive reports in Raleigh’s News & Observer, no physical evidence linked Brown to the murder. In addition, the Anson County Sheriff’s Office lost much of the evidence.
What led to Brown’s conviction and subsequent 14 years in a psychiatric hospital was a six-page confession SBI agent Mark Isley claimed that Brown told him verbatim.
A 2010 article from the News & Observer states, “Then and now, Brown can’t get past the letter J when reciting the alphabet. He is a 46-year-old man with the mind of a 7-year-old boy, his IQ hovering at about half that of a person with average intelligence.”
Brown, now 49, has been living with a full-time caretaker since his release in 2007.
A Wake County man, Greg Taylor, who was also wrongly convicted of murder, was awarded $4.625 million by the SBI as well.
Attorney General Roy Cooper said the Brown and Taylor settlements are an opportunity to move on, but did not admit any wrongdoing by the agency he supervises. “The SBI and other law enforcement agencies now have better interrogation methods and lab reporting practices than were used in the 1990s when the incidents at issue in these lawsuits occurred,” Cooper said in a statement released Aug. 12. “It was in the best interest of the state to settle these cases.”