14 Years Later, Judge Drops Charges Against Retarded Man
A judge dismissed murder charges against a man held without trial for 14 years.
Oct. 8, 2007— -- A mentally retarded man charged with robbery and murder 14 years ago, but ruled incompetent to stand trial and held at a state mental health hospital ever since, was ordered freed Monday after a judge dismissed the case against him.
Floyd Brown, a 43-year-old Anson County man with an IQ of 50, was charged in the robbery and beating death of 80-year-old Katherine Lynch in 1993. He was found at the time to be incompetent to stand trial and ordered held at Dorothea Dix Hospital, because prosecutors who believed him dangerous refused to drop the caseagainst him.
"Somehow, it is possible for him to be held until he dies," said Durham County Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. "To me, it doesn't seem right."
It was not immediately clear when Brown would be released. Hisrelatives said it always was clear he didn't commit the crime.
"The system we looked to to protect him just failed. Anybody who looked could see he didn't do it, but nobody cared," said Brown's sister, Frances Staton. "The 14 years are gone. I can'tbring them back. The main thing now is, he's free."
Authorities in Anson County have said Brown confessed to using a walking stick to beat Lynch in her home, just down the street in Wadesboro from the house he shared with his mother. In the confession, Brown said he struck Lynch five times after she refused his request for a dollar, telling Brown she didn't have any money to give him.
But his attorneys challenged the validity of the confession, calling a pair of expert witnesses Monday who said the flowing narrative language of the typewritten document that Brown signeddidn't match his halting speech.
"His speech is marked by being very repetitive," said Dr. Mark Hazelrig, a forensic psychologist at Dorothea Dix.
The defense also attacked other elements of the prosecution's case, pointing out that the detectives who investigated Lynch's murder later pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges inunrelated cases. Brown's attorney argued new evidence suggests that the description of the suspect doesn't match Brown, and Lynch's actual time of death was several hours before police claim Brown killed her.