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. Western_Gate

    so when a BART police officer commits a murder, he gets ONLY 2 yrs prison and even then he gets to walk out after 1 yr but an innocent man who did not commit the crime, gets to rot in jail for over 27 yrs, wow! I mean wow! what a great example of justice and equality of law!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • human

      He deserves a million dollars from the police department or investigation department.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • jeb

      Western, don't you know it's just us?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • WaitWhat?

      Just a million for 27 years? I'd say a helluva lot more than that.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • TheSystemsBrokenTimeForChange

      Clearly, our court system is broken, but with judicial immunity the real criminals who put this victim behind bars will NEVER pay the price. CHANGE THE SYSTEM – Stop electing lawyers to office, then once those WEINERS are out of the way, reform it by eliminating judicial immunity, capping lawyer fees, certify lawyers on an annual basis for expertise and competency, and eliminate the auction house system that robs people of their rights and money in America.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
    • CJ

      What is your life worth? Being imprisoned has to be about the worst way to live your life, all the while knowing your innocent would only make it worse. $1mil a year sounds reasonable.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Aeromechanic.

      The BART office didn't committ murder. That is just extremist/racist BS coming out of your mouth. Whatever his intentions were, a jury of 12 people decided he was negligent in killing that hell raiser. There was no intent on his part to kill him.

      You can keep calling it murder all you want it doesn't mean it was. Murder means you intended to kill someone and possibly planned it in advance. No one with half a brain could possibly believe that this former officer planned to kill a punk for no apparent reason in front of several other officers not to mention bystanders.

      Get a life.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      That BART officer only served 11 months.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Flatsguide

    1 wrong out of 10,000 right doesn't justify stopping the capital punishment. Matter of fact, we should have electic bleachers or express lanes.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Hades

      Thing is.. its not 1 wrong out of 10,000. Many people have been found innocent by various groups.

      "Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer," says English jurist William Blackstone

      June 21, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      What if you were the 1 in 10,000?

      June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      "It is better to let ten guilty men go free than to convict one innocent man."

      Errors like this do indeed justify a rethinking of our capital punishment system. Had he been punished to death and the sentence been carried out, the most atrocious acts of irreversible injustices would have been carried out.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • John B

      You are incorrect...1 wrongly convicted person is exactly why the death penalty should be abolished. People have been put to death for crimes they haven't commited in this country before. DNA evidence is relatively new to law inforcement, and until they let every innocent person out of jail based on that, the death penalty cannot and should not be applied.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
    • WaitWhat?

      LOL! Love that idea. The prisons should "go green" and fry as many at once to save on electricity. Surely solar panels could be used somehow.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      I agree. I f you get caught, get indidcted, get a trial, get convicted, appeal, appeal ,appeal, and still end up in jail; 99.9999% you are guilty. Death penalty for all murderers, rapists, child molesters. Taxpayer relief by not having to house and send to college every 30-lifer and death row inmate.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      I, for one, find it sad the kind of company we are in with respects to other countries with capital punishment. Not sure that I want to be lumped into a group that consists of China and mostly Muslim based Middle Eastern countries. But hey, I guess you agree with your Muslim brothers in this regards.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • tifoso

      Having been part of the legal system years ago, I have seen many people convicted for crimes they did not commit. Often it is because they do not have the money to have expensive tests like DNA done and the local judge will not authorize the funds. Judges are often former prosecutors, a practice that should be forbidden. Police often realize they have the wrong person but they have gone too far and risk being disciplined indirectly (denied promotion) if they decide they were wrong. So they plunge ahead to get a conviction. In many states, an uncorroborated "confession" of a co-conspirator is admissible, and often, conclusive even if the alleged co-conspirator was threatened with the death penalty if he did not perjure himself. (There is a notable Florida case on this. A retarded man was forced to confess to a crime committed nowhere near where the retarded man ever was.) That perjured confession was the only evidence against the man convicted. Oh, and the man convicted was years later found not to have done the crime.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • It goes to show you don't really care

      Stalin once said "one person dying is a tragedy, one million is a statistic."

      It is very apparent that people executed wrongly is just a statistic to you and you ultimately don't care what happens to people you don't know. Think about it long and hard.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Jeffrey Nelson

      I bet your opinion would be different if YOU were the one !

      June 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon

      it's stupidity like you demonstrate that perpetuates this stuff....as long as there are morons, there will be more of this stuff

      June 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steven

      Flatsguide,

      You are absolutely wrong in your argument and your numbers. Since 1973 over 138 people have been released from Death Row because information came forward proving they were innocent. These people are the same people that were convicted, 'beyond any reasonable doubt', to be absolutely guilty. I agree that murderers, people that harm children, etc. should die – but – the twelve man jury system is clearly flawed. Also, when you decide something, you have to look at the alternative. In this case the alternative is not that these people go free, is not that they will ever be a threat to society again; the alternative is life in prison, without parole. It will actually SAVE taxpayer money to feed and house these people for the rest of their lives then the legal costs associated with a death penalty case. If you truly want to educate yourself on this, go to the Issues section of http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org. Cheers.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Perryboy

    WHAT!!!!!! A white man in prison for a crime he didn't commit? Must have been an all black jury.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Playjojo

      It's because of racism and card throwing like that, that we'll never have an even society. Stop whining and finger pointing, it's not "Everyone else" it starts at home.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • iamthefredman

      Sorry, but no. It was an all Asian jury. They didn't have thier eyes open enough to see the evidence ! LOL. OK bad joke. Sorry again.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Andrea

    What does the state do to help a man like this. They owe him something for his time. This is so sad and I know there are other innocent people sitting in prisons right now.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • karek40

      Most states are in fiscal trouble for helping way to many people as it is. It is tragic that he was wrongly convicted, perhaps the witnesses and the prosecutor should have to fork over compensation. One thing I am sure of is I did not convict him and do not want my tax dollars given to him.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      @karek – You most certainly did convict him...well, your justice system did. He will be compensated well by the state, as he should be.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  5. USMC79

    Here comes a big fat check for your inconvinience Sir!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
  6. Hades

    No ammount of money can make up for 27 years lost.

    27 years.. its hard to imagine. I was 1 when this guy was put away and now ive graduated with a phd, started a family with 3 kids and am living in my own home (still paying mortage). Still.. imagine that amount of time.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • TheSystemsBrokenTimeForChange

      Not the mention the reaming pretty boy took while in prison... he'll never have a standard bowel movement again.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  7. Randy

    Probably alot more in for profit jail scams the Republicans are using. Look at the judge in Pa. Incarnating kids for profit.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  8. I_feel_your_pain

    Where is my comment ???

    June 21, 2011 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • CloverGirl

      Right here!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    See, the system works!.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • David J. Conklin

      Okay ... We'll slap your ass in jail for a crime you didn't commit and let you out in 27 years–then we'll see which tune you sing!

      June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Hades

      I think Mike was being sarcastic 🙂

      June 21, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. TC Williams

    When you have a policing system that is predicated on the conviction rate as opposed to justice, you're going to have many, many cases where innocent people are thrown behind bars. What we've seen in the past few years through programs like the innocence project is just the tip of the iceberg.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  11. srichey

    Have a lot of money and a good lawyer and you will be fine. Otherwise, you are at the mercy of a hideous bureacracy.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  12. tim

    in this day of society people tend to sue people for just about everything and its sad, but i be dam if this is one case that is justified, i would sue their azz for 30 years of employment taken away, family, friends, stress and the police dept. incompetence and then i want an public apology and a letter written in the paper and then i would take my millions and tel them to kiss my azz and go live in the bahammas or hawaii fro the rest of my life

    June 21, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chess

    The police and judicial system are NOT to be trusted.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • David J. Conklin

      Most of the time they get it right–try watching 48 Hours.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. W. Street

    Why did it take so many years to clear him?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JLS639

      Because the state refused to allow the defense to use new technology to test the evidence. Also, this case was so shoddy (see my post in response to Reason on the first page) that the local law enforcement did not want scrutiny.

      June 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Emily

    This man was convicted of a crime based on absolutely no evidence, and the lies of a police officer. It's just a truly horrible story. But then again, the daily senseless violent crimes we read about are horrible as well. It's sad when our justice system fails us by imprisoning people who are innocent, as well as by releasing people who simply go on to murder again.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
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