After 27 years with wrong man behind bars, cops have four new murder suspects
Officials say William Dillon, who was in jail for murder for 27 years, did not commit the crime. They now have four new suspects.
June 21st, 2011
09:22 AM ET

After 27 years with wrong man behind bars, cops have four new murder suspects

After an 18 month investigation the Brevard County Sheriff's Office in Florida announced it has solved a murder case in which a man was wrongly imprisoned for nearly three decades.

James Dvorak was found dead more than 30 years ago on Cordova Beach in Central Florida. For 27 of those years William Dillon maintained his innocence as he sat behind bars doing time for Dvorak's murder.

"Based on the information we have, the DNA evidence, some witness statements and some other information all appearances are [Dillon] was not involved in the beating death of Mr. Dvorak," Brevard County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Lt. Todd Goodyear said.

The DNA testing of evidence that helped gain Dillon's release from prison in 2008 also helped lead the sheriff's office to four new suspects. The suspects have not been charged but the case has been handed over to the prosecutor’s office.

"It's a little bit different to put your suspects out before you arrest them," Goodyear said.

He says with the focus off of Dillon the sheriff's office hopes to find more witnesses to "fill in some of the blanks."

Although Dillon says he is "extremely glad" that the sheriff's office found out who committed the crime, he still has a heavy heart.

"It hurts me down deep in my soul," Dillon said, "because I have been dealing with this for 30 years."

Man spends 27 years wrongly imprisoned writing songs

Goodyear says over those 30 years investigative tools have changed.

"We have the advantage of one thing they didn't," Goodyear said. "Science. And that has been very helpful in this."

As the sheriff's office continues to investigate those they say are responsible for Dvorak's death, the man who was originally convicted of the crime is still trying to rebuild his life.

Dillon plans to do this by using the songs he wrote while wrongly incarcerated. On August 16 Dillon's CD "Black Robes and Lawyers" will be released.

The title song starts off with Dillon saying, "I was arrested for murder on August 26, 1981, for a crime I didn't commit."

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Filed under: Crime • Justice
soundoff (370 Responses)
  1. Teacher Mass

    Why did my last comment not post?

    June 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Teacher Mass

    OK, I'll try again.

    Do you remember the lacrosse players at Duke? The night after it happened, there were people marching on the campus with candles, and saying "Take back the night", "It can't happen here", etc. And of course, nobody could have known at that point what really happened... But many people equate an accusation with guilt, even when there is not sufficient evidence to support the accusation. As long as the accused person fits their world view of what a guilty person is, based on gender, income, previous history, etc., they go with it. I'll bet a lot of those people marching with candles at Duke spent time previously criticizing lynch mobs in the south. Well, what's the difference between their ignorance and the ignorance of the lynch mobs?

    The problem is with us, the people. As long as we don't demand evidence, and accept whatever we are told, then problems like this will continue to happen. Yes, we have a problem with corruption in law enforcement and prosecutor's offices, but they can't get convictions unless juries go along with it. How many of the people here who are upset at what happened in Florida will read a two or three paragraph article about a current case sometime in the next month, and on the basis of that short reading decide that they "know" what really happened? That's the real problem.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • lynnej

      Yep. And don't forget shows like Nancy Grace and others that show actual people in trouble with the law.

      Nancy Grace's coverage has completely tainted the Anthony case.

      Make believe shows like Law and Order are one thing. But when trials started to be televised (harkened back to to OJ mess), that is when it became nothing but stupid.

      I often think that we'd be better off if the press didn't tell any details of a trial kind of like Britain.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin H

      Unfortunately Nancy Grace is an example of the type of sensationalism that is ruining this country's justice. I have to wonder how we can impanel a jury with this type of thing going on. Judges are easily allowing these juries to impanel without a thought to whether the accused receives a fair trial.

      June 22, 2011 at 12:34 am | Report abuse |
  3. AaronT3

    Thank God he did not get the death penalty!!!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • astuartgirl

      I was gonna say the same thing :-/
      People are so quick to judge.

      June 22, 2011 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • laura

      Oh my God I know! All that time... he will never get back... hearts that were broken his life shattered from a mistake...

      June 22, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  4. roberta

    I have been inside and believe my it is not some where you want to be and to know your innocent HELL. But to spend that many years inside has got to be terrible. They can give him all the money in the world but that wont give him back the years he lost. All you can do now is live life to the fullest because you know you have no time to waste. This is not an isolated case there are probably thousands of people men and women alike locked up all over the USA because the Justice system said they had to put the blame on someone and they really don't care who. Until cops,DA's lawyers stop getting tunnel vision and not worry if it is election time or if they are thinking of running for office and really care about who is guilty and who is innocent we will always see this happening. God Speed to you Dillon

    June 22, 2011 at 6:32 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mahna Mahna

    It is the duty of the justice system in this country to do this with everyone on death row (at least those who want it) even if it we go bankrupt in the process. Punishing the innocent is the biggest sin one could ever commit.

    June 22, 2011 at 8:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • seriously17

      as unfortunate as this was – that is absolutely NOT the biggest "sin" one could commit and if you believe that it's time to gain a little perspective.

      June 22, 2011 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. Picard 1

    This is yet another case i've read that shows how bad the system was back in 1984, sure the cops say that they have better technology, science etc today but if they did their jobs the right way back then and not just put this poor guy in prison just to make their records look good we wouldn't have these problems in our system. Our system is so F*#$'d up it is in definite need of reform. I am witness in a dispute recently and all we did was watch as lawyers walked from one room to the next for 3 hours only to hear that the case was dismissed for another 3 months and this has been going on for 3 years.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:05 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Kerry

    hank God for the heroes who fight for the DNA tests that lead to the release of these innocent people. No one can compensate a person for all those lost years.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tal

    "That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved." – Benjamin Franklin

    It is a tragedy that our society and our legal system has largely fogotten this.

    The job of the prosecution is to discover the truth, and yet we reward them with bonuses based on how well they can manipulate a jury into believing the defendant is guilty regardless of guilt or innocence.

    June 22, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Elizabeth

    Another reason why the Death Penalty should only be a last resort.

    If a person kills another person in a place where there is solid evidence – e.g. crowds or on video (but not those grainy crappy videos that show nothing) it's a hell of a lot easier to prove guilt.

    Until then we are stuck in a "Guilty until proven innocent" world.

    June 22, 2011 at 10:50 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Joe Schmoe

    Hello,
    I'm Johnny Cash...............................

    June 22, 2011 at 11:14 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. maurice

    I think that the justice system is flawed bad! This man should be paid for everyday he spent behind bars! I believe that when they find out that they made a mistake they should take care of that person!I will pray that God will touch their hearts!

    June 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. You're a moron

    There have been 23 people on death row in florida that have beem found innocent later through dna testing. There have been 271 nation wide. They all were found guilty in a court of law. The prosecutors all fought tooth and nail to PREVENT such testing. Just goes to show that prosecutors don't really care about finding the truth, just a conviction. They just need to trick the jury into believing what they say.

    June 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  13. sonof syvert

    Dillion will get nada from the State of Florida! He would have been executed in Texas. Just recently hambone Guv Perry let a man be executed even tho' there was evidence that he did NOT kill his wife and 2 daughters. I wish we could "block" these maverick states that glorify legal vigilantees!

    June 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Joseph Avalon

    Why is Florida and Texas "Soft on Crime"?

    There is perhaps nothing more dehumanizing than to be labeled a convict and serving a sentence for any length of time. At least the real criminals have the condolence of knowing they are there as a result of the consequences of their actions, but an innocent man spends every day in prison reliving the injustice forced upon them by the state.

    Having lived in both states, I can say that the primary emphasis of the justice system is to simply find someone/anyone they think a jury will convict. Regardless that this imprisons an innocent person and lets a guilty person walk free. I cannot imagine why any prosecutor or judge would fight an attempt by "The Innocence Project", or any other group to reexamine former evidence. Is their desire to not admit a former mistake stronger than their desire for true Justice?

    When a state allows a guilty person to go free, because they found some other member of "the usual suspects" to take their place – I call that "Soft on Crime!!!"

    June 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • catbyrd

      In every criminal case you can count on the fact that there will be one liar, a member of law enforcement. We could go a long way towards cleaning up our criminal justice system if we required that law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges, representing the government, be it state or federal, tell the TRUTH (and holding them accountable for telling it). It is all right for those with police and prosecutorial powers to lie to a citizen-accused but not all right for the citizen-accused to lie to them, even if they are NOT under oath (which Martha Stewart learned the hard way).

      The criminal justice system in this country is the equivalent of a criminal conspiracy itself. We are rapidly becoming a nation of felons, particularly if you are black or Hispanic. The 7th largest growth industry in the country, the criminal justice system is basically a conversion scheme - converting the lives of individual people, without respect for actual innocence or guilt, in cases where the authorities lie and conceal evidence to gain convictions, to the property of the state or federal government.

      Texas enacted 242 NEW laws this year, criminalizing even the misrepresentation of a fish, which is what I always thought fishing was all about. Shame on us for voting people like this into office because if they can come for your neighbor on a trumped up charge, they can come for you. No one is exempt, not even the wealthy. Although, the wealthy can, at least, hire a decent attorney to represent them - in a federal case $50,000 to plea, $300,000 and up to trial and if you lose, you are bankrupted and incarcerated for as long as they can possibly ratchet up the sentence using enhancements.

      June 24, 2011 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ellen

    this man better be massively compensated...

    June 30, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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