House OK’s $1.35 M for man who wrongly served 27 years for murderby John Kennedy | February 24th, 2012
An emotional William Dillon looked on Friday as the House agreed to pay him $1.35 million as compensation for spending more than 27 years behind bars from a crime he did not do.
The House voted 107-5 to approve the payment. The Senate, which earlier approved a similar version of the bill, is expected to OK the measure as early as next week.
“It’s been quite a journey,” said Dillon, who choked back tears following the House vote. “Money doesn’t really take care of what we had to deal with, but it will help me get something.”
Dillon said he considered the claims bill an apology from the state.
“Ultimately, it is about just saying ‘we’re sorry this happened to you,’” he added.
Dillon, 52, who now lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., was convicted for the 1981 murder of James Dvorak, in Brevard’s Canova Beach. Eyewitnesses placed him near the murder scene and his alibi didn’t stand up to a jury. It wasn’t until 2005 that the Innocence Project, which works to free those believed wrongfully convicted, was directed to his case.
DNA testing of a bloody shirt which prosecutors said was worn by the victim showed Dillon was not the killer. After he won a new trial, prosecutors dropped charges against him, saying they didn’t have sufficient evidence or witnesses to pursue the case.
Some of the original witnesses against Dillon testified only after they had been threatened with jail time for other crimes by Brevard County prosecutors, researchers found.
“It’s justifiable,” Dillon said of the settlement. “When something is wrong, it’s wrong.”