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. svann

    So was it
    1. Perjured testimony
    or
    2. jury not understanding or caring what proof beyond reasonable doubt means
    or
    3. expert witness that are just bs experts (see #1)

    June 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Mamudoon

    This is beyond reprehensible. Every single person that helped convict him, from the judge to the lawyers to the jury members, should be imprisoned for the rest of their lives. And yell something about them being child molesters when they're brought in – prisoners LOVE them. What disgusting wastes of oxygen. What's truly frightening is that these people somehow sleep at night.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nostradamus

      I could never been more agree.....We have given too much power to police officers, investigators, prosecutors and judges so every single people involved in false charges must be found accountable....Regarding the jury, I found stupid and absurd to allow ignorant persons without a clue what it means the criminal system, to decide the fate of a human being.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. charlie

    This is a sad story. I hope he does get some money. That's the least the idiots can do for the injustice.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ryan

    Can you imagine been locked up, with no freedom for something you didn't do? I say, criminal charges should be brought against the people that put him in Jail...let them see what prision's like and how their dumb decisions ruined this mans life. They care so much for the dead guy....well, there are worst things then death and I think Prision is one of them.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sand

    What if he had been executed? A powerful argument against the death penalty. You can't ever make that right.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian in COlorado

      I agree. I have always been a firm supporter of the death penalty, but I keep reading about people found guilty of crimes they did not commit. I don't know what to believe in any more.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. MJB

    This is just awful. This man better get a few million after all hes been through. Wonder why it took all those years to use DNA. Weird... so, so sad for him, family and friends. The best to him...

    June 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Zero1020

    Is this guy going to get paid? I sincerely hope the state that imprisoned him has to pay out millions so that he can enjoy the rest of his life. (What little he may have left.)

    June 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KRICKET

    Was he serving 28 years prizon sentence? They call it release. The sentence for murder seems too harsh – unles they say he tortured the guy and burned the body. The system in US should be fixed. Now we have advanced technology but the system is old. Now Congress "advanced" VAWA (Violence Agains Women Act) that allows US citizen husbands to be persecuted and put to jail on the first complain of Immigrants (even illegal). More innocent people like this man are in jails now because of VAWA.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Souljacker

      That has nothing to do with this issue – as the crime was committed against a man. It sounds to me like you are a wife-beater and are now upset that there are laws protecting your wife instead of giving you a free pass to be violent.

      Grow a pair and be a man. No real man raises a hand to his wife.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Russell

    This man is dealing with this extremely well. I'd be screaming for blood after losing 27 years of my life to a wrongful conviction.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Souljacker

      You'd think that, wouldn't you? 27 years has a way of mellowing people out. I do hope that he gets some sort of compensation – maybe he will get a record deal!

      Enjoy the rest of his life.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. erich2112x

    How may more?

    June 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Leanna

    This is truly beyond reprehensible! A criminal waste of talent! This story makes me sick to my stomach, how can someone convict this innocent man and enjoy their day to day life with their family knowing that they ruined someone elses life? I hope the best for this man and hopefully he gets money after this horrible ordeal.

    June 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. S

    Someone needs to give this guy a few million dollars and a hosue on the beach

    June 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jurorno5

    May 4, 2011. TALLAHASSEE — Senate President Mike Haridopolos made the following statement following passage by the Florida Senate of payment for William Dillon, a Brevard County man wrongfully convicted of murder:

    After 27 years in prison for a murder he did not commit, the Florida Senate today voted to award William Dillon $810,000 to compensate him to help right a horrendous wrong. Mr. Dillon lost 27 years of freedom because the state of Florida failed him by wrongly incarcerating him for more than half his life. Today’s unanimous vote by the Senate sends a loud message that when we as a state make a mistake, we must pay for it.

    Room and board but requires menial work along with constant 24/7 surveillance and confined "free time." $30,000 /year. What a deal!

    June 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Souljacker

      The number is definitely a bit low. That number should be more like in the millions, though money will never be able to make up for the thirty years this man lost. So many lost opportunities and now he has to basically start over in the twilight of his life.

      June 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. maximumrider

    wow! 30 years have passed. i cannot begin to imagine what it is like to serve time for a crime you did not commit. so much has changed since then. and now there are four suspects? i'd like to know what happened that this man was convicted 30 years ago. did witnesses lie? was evidence feigned to convict him?

    June 21, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Vince

    It's a shame this happened, unfortunately it has happened way more than anyone realizes. The justice system is more concerned with conviction rates than whether they have the right person...it's their way of appeasing society with the someone has to pay mentality. Honestly how many of us would actually believe a person who says they're innocent after they've been convicted? I think judges and prosecuters should be held accountable when someone is wrongly convicted...that'll stop these gung ho prosecuters who'll try to win a conviction despite all the facts showing the person is innocent. I meean how can a human being look at all the evidence...KNOW the person is innocent, but try to convict them anyway...geez!

    June 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
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