Before reading this article, please enjoy this short musical video:
William Dillon was convicted of a 1981 bludgeoning murder in Brevard County which he did not commit. Had he been sentenced to death – which was entirely feasible – he would have lived about fifteen to twenty years in prison before being terminated by the state. His only legacy would have been: Killer executed.
Instead, he was sentenced to life. As the years passed, he struggled for recognition in a system where so many prisoners lie and deny guilt, that he was ignored as just another inmate trying to beat the system. All he wanted was a chance to prove his innocence.
Finally, after drafting his own legal papers and then with the help of the Innocence Project, and despite numerous objections from the State Attorney of jurisdiction, Dillon’s DNA was compared to the killer’s tee shirt, armpits, blood and sweat and they did not match. Still, with the objection of the state, the judge released Dillon as a free man in 2008 after twenty-seven years of Hell on earth.
This was not a case of a killer beating the rap. Bill Dillon really did not kill that man on the beach in 1981. I am a former Miami-Dade homicide detective with many investigations under my belt both as detective and as supervisor. This investigation was a sham. Police supervisors and the prosecutor’s office should have seen all the red flags, but they were ignored. That’s not hindsight being 20/20, that’s an accusation which I stand by.
* That night, a truck driver gave a lift to the alleged killer whose shirt was covered in blood. The killer was described as 5′ 8″ to 6′. Dillon was 6’4.” That size doesn’t go unnoticed.
* The killer’s bloody shirt was deposited into a dumpster and recovered by police. It was a size medium. Dillon wore a size large.
* A dog handler was called to check out Dillon’s scent using a crumpled piece of paper, which the handler claimed the dog alerted to as being the same as the shirt. That dog handler was discredited in several ensuing cases as incompetent, resulting in the overturn of many other criminal convictions around the nation.
* A female witness claimed she spotted Dillon standing over the body. The same female witness had a different story when first questioned and later, recanted her testimony after trial. But nothing was done. As it turns out, the female was having an affair with the lead detective.
* A jailhouse snitch testified at trial claiming that Dillon confessed to him in the local jail. Twenty-seven years later, that same man admitted under oath to a Tallahassee committee, that he bribed into lying by one of the detectives in exchange for favors concerning his own criminal charges. He apologized to Dillon’s face. Where I come from, jailhouse snitches were always ordered to be polygraphed for veracity, but this was not done in the Dillon case.
This could be a very long article, but readers will get the point.
After his release, Bill Dillon managed a settlement with the state of Florida for over 1.3 million dollars, but it took three years of objections, delays and haggling. Finally, in 2012, Governor Rick Scott apologized to Dillon on behalf of the State of Florida.
In a recent interview on Fox and Friends, Bill Dillon said he held no grudges. His life is moving on by writing and recording music and sharing life with a woman of his dreams. Dillon has written a number of songs, one of which titles his new album, Black Robes and Lawyers. It is linked at the beginning of this article.
I do hold a grudge. I bothers me that incompetence and failure to pursue all avenues to determine guilt and/or innocence was not taken by the cops and by the prosecutors in this case. It’s a reflection upon my profession. As a result, an innocent man lost twenty-seven of his prime years of life. Seems someone, besides the taxpayer, should pay for that.
As a professional cop and former homicide investigator, it bothers me that such as stain can still be attached even if it’s only a tiny number of cases. When we are dealing with the life of a human being, there should be no mistakes, there should be no incompetency.
But there’s always that one percent. That’s why the death penalty must be abolished in the United States, not because we’re bleeding hearts, it is the only way to guarantee that an innocent man or woman will never be wrongly executed.
Today, there are 3170 inmates on Death Row. If only one-half of one percent were innocent, that means our system will be executing 16 innocent people. How can we rationalize that?
There are other compelling reasons to abolish capital punishment in America, but none are as important as precluding – ever – the execution of any innocent people. Unfortunately, not every investigation is going to be perfect, nor will every detective, prosecutor or judge.
It’s time America. Sure there are some nasty criminals out there who deserve the worst we have to offer. But we can’t justify sacrificing a few innocents by executing the majority who are guilty.
It was a close jury vote in 1981 that saved Bill Dillon from the Death Chamber. Had he been wrongly executed, there would never have been a song recorded called, Black Robes and Lawyers. And he would never have sung the Star Spangled Banner at a professional baseball game. He would never have fallen in love and been loved so dearly. And he would never have been deeply valued as my friend.
Watch Discovery Channel at 9 p.m., December 10th, when a one-hour special will air about the Dillon case.
Bill Dillon recently appeared on Fox And Friends, here is the 9-minute video.
The William Dillon Freedom Foundation has been formed with the goal to assist those convicted who may be innocent of crimes and to hold the justice system more accountable. Please visit his web page: Click here: HOME