While the story of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin made Tiger King a must-see docu-series on Netflix, The Innocence Files is sure to be the next true crime fan obsession on the streaming site. The series is set to focus on eight cases of overturned convictions.
The Innocence Files chronicles the work done by The Innocence Project, a nonprofit that helps provide legal representation to inmates who were likely wrongfully imprisoned.
Two of the people and cases who will be featured on the docu-series are Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks. The two men were separately accused of similar rapes and murders in Mississippi in 1990. Decades after they each were sentenced to prison, there was substantial proof that neither of the men was responsible.
What happened to Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer? Find out if the men were ever exonerated, and to learn more about the crimes they were accused of in the first place.
What happened to Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer?
The cases against Levon Brooks and Kennedy Brewer were linked to one another because of how similar the crimes they were accused of were. In September of 1990, a 3-year-old girl named Courtney Smith was taken from her Brooksville, Miss. home while her sisters slept near her and her uncle slept down the hall.
A few days later, her body was found in a pond that was located less than one hundred yards from her family's home. She had been sexually assaulted before she was killed.
Levon Brooks soon became the prime suspect because he had once dated the victim's mother. Though bite marks were found on the victim's body, Brooks' mouth wasn't immediately examined for comparison.
The victim's sister identified Brooks as the culprit, and since she was in the same room at the time of the abduction, police took her words very seriously. Brooks was soon arrested for the murder, despite a lack of substantial evidence.
After he was arrested, Brooks's teeth were finally examined to compare to the bite mark. A forensic dentist named Michael West later said that there was a match between two of Brooks's teeth and the mark found on the body.
Brooks went on trial in January of 1992, and the prosecution relied heavily on the forensic dentist's testimony and the witness testimony from the victim's sister.
Though Brooks had an alibi that he was at work during the time of the murder, he was still convicted of the crime.
He was sentenced to life in prison. Four months after his conviction, an eerily similar abduction and murder occurred. That's where Kennedy Brewer comes in to the story.
In May of 1992, another 3-year-old girl named Christine Jackson was abducted from her Brooksville, Miss. home. Her body was later found in the creek by her home. The police soon focused on the boyfriend of the girl's mother who was Kennedy Brewer.
As if the cases couldn't get more similar, the bite marks found on the victim's body were later said to be a match with Brewer. The forensic dentist used during Brooks' trial was enlisted for Brewer's trial as well. He testified that the bite marks matched Brewer. Though the dentist was later suspended from the American Board of Forensic Odontology, his testimony was still allowed in court.
In 1995, Brewer was found guilty of rape and murder and sentenced to death, though there was evidence of a break in at the abduction site.
He maintained his innocence.
DNA evidence later exonerated both Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks.
Though both Brewer and Brooks spent more than a decade each in prison, they were both later exonerated from the charges against them.
DNA evidence retrieved from the semen found on Jackson's body ruled Brewer out as a suspect. A second dentist, Dr. Richard Souviron, also found that the bite marks on the victim's body were likely from insects, and they occurred after her death.
Though his conviction was overturned in 2001, Brewer remained in prison for another five years, as the prosecution claimed that they were going to try him again. Brewer was then released in 2007 after a new prosecutor was appointed while he awaited his next trial.
While looking in to other suspects, DNA evidence pointed to Justin Albert Johnson. He had originally been a suspect in Jackson's murder, though police then shifted their focus to Brewer.
When the police spoke with Johnson, he confessed to murdering Christine Jackson. He also confessed to murdering another little girl several years before: Courtney Smith.
Both Brewer and Brooks were exonerated in 2008.
Sadly, in 2018, Levon Brooks passed away from cancer at the age of 58. The arrests, convictions, and subsequent exonerations of Kennedy Brewer and Levon Brooks will be chronicled in the Netflix docu-series.
The Innocence Files will be available to stream on Netflix on April 15.