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. Prometheus

    I smell a civil suit if they don't do 'the right thing' and willingly pay this guy. They can say he was a 'convicted criminal' for prior drug charges until the last trumpet sounds as far as I am concerned. Being in possession on a SINGLE quaalude pill is not an excuse for doing the right thing and at least TRYING to compensate a human being for taking more than 1/3 of their lifetime (and the best years at that) from them.

    These types of things make me ashamed of my elected/appointed government when I know that people from other countries can see just how far we have fallen. I am proud to be American but I'll be honest and admit that some days (hell some months) it's G.D. hard to be.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • tonyS

      How many other countries have systems in place to CORRECT a wrong? That's why you SHOULD be proud of your country.

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

      That's exactly what I was thinking. It's sad to mistakenly take years away from someones life. Our justice system is far from perfect but, it's the best we have and humans aren't perfect. Bless him and wish him well.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Aquinas

      As far as the felony conviction for 1 quaalude and a joint, we're accepting his word for it - sounds pretty self-serving. It's terrible that he was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, but CNN is, interestingly, leaving out just why he was susptected of the crime in the first place. I would hazard that when his full history is known, he won't look like such a martyr.

      June 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Tennessee

      The only reason why corruption exists in the legal system is because we allow it to. The greatest recourse we typically pursue and rarely at that, is playing a defensive roll when the system fails us by bringing court verdicts to a higher level until we are satisfied. But this is inefficient and counter productive. As a whole, most Americans don't take part in their local or state elections – and its what most directly affects them. The only way the situation is going to improve is by becoming an active member in your local and state political scenes. Boring? Sure. Worthwhile? Absolutely.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    The prosecutor probably lived a nice little life while this guy was in prison. That is what really bothers me, among other things.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tonyS

    The Central Park 5? Um, several of them admitted to the killing. The videotaped confessions are pretty damning.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cocoa Florida

    Obviously you don't know the whole story. The BIG problem with this case was a K-9 handler that was later found to be lying and basically a fraud. The police and the prosecutor just used the evidence they were provided at the time to convince a jury to convict Mr. Dillion. So please go do some research on the facts before you start blaming the cops, prosecutors, or judges.

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

      Your a jerk...Just using the evidence that they were given is just an excuse to cover up the incompetence of the prosecutor...Ive seen people lose their jobs just for taking down a network at a business...This prosecutor destroyed someones life and need to held accountable..

      June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • oilfeilds

      if you cant do ur job right step down, dont cover the inesent up..

      June 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones


      The state, not the employee of the state, is ultimately responsible for this man's original prosecution. Under the law, the state's attorney was only doing his job, so unless there is direct evidence of gross deriliction or purgery by the prosecutor, the prosecuting attorney has no liability in the matter.

      Who's the Jerk now, Jack? It must suck to just be completely wrong. Let me know how that feels sometime.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Tennessee

      Most cops are lazy and arrogant. They don't care about what is right or wrong; what they do care about is exerting their given authority on citizens as if it is their own simply to make up for their personal inadequacies and failures as husbands and fathers. Because of their egos, they prefer to lend credence to their initial assumptions and then they go with this as fact and move on to the next situation. A desensitized apathy is what lead this man to suffer like others. Don't believe me police officers? That's your arrogance again rearing its ugly head.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      Spoken like someone who's only ever known cops in the dirty south. Most cops are absolutely NOT the way you portray them. If this were the case, the US would more closely resemble a country like, say, Mexico, where widespread police corruption has led to a virtual state of lawlessness in some places.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Tennessee

      Yeah that's right. Pass the buck Jimbo. Never accept responsibility or allow other folks in blue uniforms (state empowered civilians) to take the heat.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Tennessee

      That's Bull C. I've been in the military for 13 years and I guarantee you I've seen more of the world than you three life times over. Cops are the same everywhere. They start out right and they end up decadent.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones


      Your generalization of cops is truly ridiculous and pointless. Your argument is based on personal opinion, not what the law of the state says. Unless the prosecuting attorney is found to have knowingly purgered himself at trial, he bears ZERO responsibility. I'm all for accepting responsibility but place it where it lies. The K-9 cop who lied under oath was never prosecuted for this, and that again is the fault of the state's attorney at the time. If there is sufficient evidence to prove wrongdoing, I'm sure it will be uncovered in time. Most cops are NOT, I repeat, NOT corrupt. I dare anyone to try and prove that statement otherwise, as it applies to cops in the US.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • James in Tennessee

      Not corrupt? Then how is that Jamaican and Mexican drug lords are able to push 20 kilos of cocaine all the way to Chicago every month?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. fritz

    In my opinion, the prosecutor and any involved should be investigated, tried, convicted and sent to prison for the crime of false conviction of the innocent. Only when these disgusting examples of the legal system are made examples of will this nonsense end. Ignorance of guilt or innocence is no excuse just as ignorance of the law is no excuse.

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

      I agree, totally!

      June 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      Wrong. The state, not the employee of the state, is ultimately responsible for this man's original prosecution. Under the law, the state's attorney was only doing his job, so unless there is direct evidence of gross deriliction or purgery by the prosecutor, the prosecuting attorney has no liability in the matter.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. herb666

    Typical Florida justice system. Now it's time to pony up.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      How is it "typical?" If this were the case, that would mean that most inmates in the Florida Corrections system are not guilty of the crimes for which they are imprisoned. You don't REALLY believe that, do you? Of course not. So, it isn't typical.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mannyg

      Your right, my brother was murdered in Jacksonville Fl in 1998. They had both the perps on video talking about the crime.Guess what, the State lawyers let them plea bargain down from murder 1. The most messed up legal system in the country.I bet they are even worse than Pakistan.

      June 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dorry

    This is not an isolated case, folks. Check out The Innocence Project and watch the movie "Conviction."

    June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. idea

    I wonder just how many innocent people are sitting in prison right now. All I can do is pray for them.Some people dont even get to have good defense lawyers or honest judges.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |

    When did America get to the point where it is okay to imprison someone for 27 years and we flippantly say "It's only a few." "It's okay for COPS to make mistakes, because none of us are perforect." COME ON PEOPLE! We must ask for a better job. It is not 99.9% right. So if your doctor only kills 1 patient every 100 and that patient is your mom, is that okay because he is human and makes mistakes? OMG! What has happened to the heart of this country?

    June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      Your argument is self-contradictory. You accept that nobody is 100% perfect, yet you wish to villify someone based on that imperfection just because it doesn't suit you? Good thing you aren't a defense attorney or you might be the one behind bars for making mistakes.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. LiqMat

    I hope he sues the @#$% out them!

    June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Mike

    Was a cop for 32 years and worked in the most elite unit of the Department as a Detective and the Commander. I could not live with having someone from a case I worked in jail as the wrong person! The truth, and having compassion for victims,are what matters though sometimes the truth is not easy to arrive at, this isn't TV.So those of you with no real life experience don't brand us all alike as vengeful glory hounds with no ethical standards!

    June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jack Russell

    The article didn't say anything about monetary compensation for Mr. Dillon.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • jimbojones

      Monetary compensation? Based on what figure? The only compensation this guy will get will be from punitive damages if he decides to sue the state for wrongful imprisonment, and that was never mentioned in the article, so why would it say anything about remuneration?

      June 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jeffrey Nelson

    In my opinoion judges, prosecutors, and even police investigators should not be given immunity in cases of wrongful prosecutions or convictions. This is probably the only thing we could to do to ensure that cases were brought only when those involved were sure of the TRUTH...which is SUPPOSED to be what all of them are after.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Deborah Pierce


      June 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Last Federalist

    Read Grishams "The Innocent Man" and also check out the innocence Project.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rich

    I would buy that man's record.

    June 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
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