From the blog of Florida Innocence Project
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Today the Brevard County State Attorney’s Office dropped all charges against William Dillon for the 1981 murder of James Dvorak in Canova Beach, Florida. Mr. Dillon served 27 years for a crime he did not commit, equaling the longest time served by any of the 225 DNA exonerees nationwide. Mr. Dillon joins Juan Ramos and Wilton Dedge as the third man exonerated in Brevard County in recent years.
“At least it didn’t take them three years to do the right thing in this case, like it did in the case of Wilton Dedge,” said Seth Miller, Executive Director of the Innocence Project of Florida (IPF). “Now that this charade is over, maybe they can focus on finding the real killer.”
Mr. Dillon, who has always maintained his innocence, was convicted on the basis of unreliable and false evidence including: subsequently recanted testimony of a star witness who was threatened by and having sex with the State's lead investigator; fraudulent scientific testimony of dog handler John Preston; testimony of a jailhouse snitch whose pending rape charge was dismissed after fingering Dillon; and a mistaken eyewitness identification by a man legally blind in one eye.
“Now that they’ve dropped the charges against Bill, they can start filing charges against the real criminals in this case,” said David Menschel, Legal Director of IPF. “There’s an open secret in Brevard County that there was a criminal conspiracy between the Sheriff’s Office and a fraudulent dog handler in order to manufacture convictions against suspects regardless of the evidence. That’s a crime, somebody needs to investigate it, and people need to go to prison.”
IPF called for the Governor to investigate the conduct of Brevard County State Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Office last month when Mr. Dillon’s conviction was vacated. Miller reiterated that call today: “It’s hard to have confidence in any of the convictions in this county given how widespread the corruption is. We again urge Governor Crist to not only investigate this corruption, but to review every case where John Preston testified. There are other wrongful convictions out there that need to be uncovered.”
“We’re thrilled that this cloud has been lifted from Bill and his family, just in time for the holidays,” added Melissa Montle, Staff Attorney with IPF.
The Innocence Project of Florida (IPF) is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to finding and freeing innocent people in Florida prisons.