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. Jeff

    Where are all the 'execute him' or 'toss away the key' or 'they have too many rights' people now. And even after he was released the Sheriff's office down there, the BSO thought he had still committed the crime. In 2008 they said that just because his DNA wasn't present didn't mean he wasn't a 'party' to the crime, that it just meant his DNA wasn't left when he helped commit the crime.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Boheme

      It's the same story with anti-abortionists blocking clinics, screaming "we will adopt the children" when the time comes to pay child raising bills..

      June 21, 2011 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
    • J. Mark Lane

      Well said, Jeff. People who call out for executions seem to forget, we are still human, and we make mistakes. Even today, we make mistakes. Only God has the right to take a life. I hope this man is able to recover some of what was taken from him.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Monica

      You know something... The "Throw Away the Key" people would say that where there is smoke there is fire and that if there was a conviction he probably was involved somehow and that they should never release anyone even if every piece of evidence says the prisoner is innocent. And the wrongly convicted person shouldn't have been anywhere near a murder in the first place... because being near it makes you guilty of it in their mind. Guilt by proximity.

      I have a friend taking Criminal Justice courses with a bunch of Cops and Rent-a-Cops and this is exactly what they say when confronted with these cases. They dismiss the efforts of groups like the Innocence Project as being utterly unnecessary.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • asdf

      No the throw away the key folks would say the poor and the minorities are always guilty and the dirt washes right off the hands of me and my country club buddies. Welfare is wrong but bailouts are fine.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Roger

    Florida pays $ 50,000.00 per year on a wrongful conviction. IF the person had no priors. So he will get 1.35 Million.

    Not nearly enough in my opinion

    June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      Unfortunately, he has a criminal history so does not qualify.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Gort01

      Crocker, are wrong. He does qualify. If you have a criminal history thet involves a "person crime...or a weapon" but even then, juries have and do award people monies in cases like this...its aggregious and hideous...why cant we put DA's and cops and detectives in jail...they lie, lie, lie...falsify evidence, coerce "witnesses" and defendants....

      June 21, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      In order to receive compensation in Florida, an exonerated person must have "clean hands." This means the person cannot have a felony on record from before they were wrongfully imprisoned.

      Dillon's efforts to get a claims bill passed through the Florida Legislature have been unsuccessful.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin in Atlanta

      I believe this man was convicted of small drug possession when he was younger. That disqualifies him from receiving any compensation for the wrongful imprisonment.

      That's ludicrous.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Crocker

    No big fat check for this guy unfortunately. He doesn't qualify because of a previous criminal history.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • justice matters

      He had possession of one qualude pill at the age of 19. Come on, does that sound like a crime that should absolve the State of Florida form doing the morally right thing? We wouldn't have the last 3 presidents of the United States if minor recreational drug use was such a severe crime.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      Didn't say it was right. Just your government bureaucracy for ya.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  4. xdougx

    The cops and lawyers who wrongfully convicted should be thrown in jail now.

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

      Start with the zealous prosecutor. Those types usually allow politics instead of facts to motivate them.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Dont' forget the jurors. They are just as much to blame.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kelly

      Obviously, you have never been a juror nor have any idea how the process work to make a point to say that the jurors are also to blame.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      He's got a point about the jurors. (Said tongue in cheek). Remember the millions the woman who was awarded millions for burning her crotch with McDonald's coffee? You can blame the jury for that one.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Glenn

    This is why the death penalty should be abolished. What if he was executed and then they found out he was innocent? Can't bring back the dead. Now I'm not saying there are not people that deserve to die for their crimes but until you can guarantee that the innocent don't die, you can't have it.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Make up your mind

      How can you say that the death sentence should be abolished in one sentence, then comment that there are people who deserve to die in the next? Waffle much?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dave

    So what happens to the ones found inocent now? What kind of retrobution are they compensation are they given for time spent and found inocent?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. toldUso

    Even if $1.35 million were to be paid, would YOU trade 27 years in prison for it?

    June 21, 2011 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      No. Nothing is worth the loss of our freedom.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Not too shabby

      It comes to $50,000/year.... more than likely a lot more than he would have earned on the outside.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dennis

    This just goes to show that anyone can be convicted and incarcerated of crimes they have not commited,not just an inner city black man screaming about the "racist justice system"

    June 21, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Yes, Dennis. Pat yourself on the back for this comment. I know it took you a while to put those words together.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Bob the Bucket Builder

    Ah, the expedient American Justice system at its best!

    June 21, 2011 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Just Me

    Something is terribly wrong with our justice system whereby someone could be convicted of a crime they did not commit and spend close to 3 decades in prison wrongly. We hear these stories over and over again. And while there is no amount of money to pay a person for wrongful conviction and imprisonment, even when these people are set free they have a hard time collected a penny from the state that convicted and imprison them. Something is terribly wrong here.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
    • How about a solution

      Yeah, we should just let everybody go. Then everything would be hunky-dory, right? Mistakes happen. Deal with it.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. David in Tennessee

    Prior history, as an excuse not pay the innocent, is ridiculous. He spent 27 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Pay up Florida!!! So much for inncent until proven guilty! Now it's time to free the WM3.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      Dillon's efforts to get a claims bill passed through the Florida Legislature have been unsuccessful.

      Maybe it's time for those who agree with you to get on the bandwagon and force some changes. Or not...

      June 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. nepawoods

    This is why the death penalty is wrong. The death penalty necessarily entails execution of innocent people ... the moral equivalent of the crime it is supposed to punish.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob the Bucket Builder

      There are too many people on this planet. Getting rid of a few can't hurt.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      "There are too many people on this planet. Getting rid of a few can't hurt." ... So why punish people for doing it?

      June 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oh the inhumanity of it all

      Failure to execute convicted criminals is one reason CA is going broke. "Let 'em all go then." you cry. Liberal twit.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crocker

      Hey Bob, there is at least one infamous person who agrees with you. He is dead now... Hitler.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Thor

    So... what "evidence" convicted this guy in the first place?

    June 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick

    Hey, I just watched The Shawshank Redemption again the other night.....Who'da thought there'd be a real life Andy DuFraine......

    June 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • nepawoods

      There are plenty known, and plenty more unknown.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shrug

    Every time I read the "made up your mind" comments regarding people like Casey Anthony, I think about people like this. How many people sit in prison because WE THINK that's where they belong?

    June 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • That's what they're for

      We? Were you the judge, on the jury, or in the courtroom? Fail. Case closed.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
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