Innocent Man Describes Years In Prison
Freed Florida Inmate Talks To Lawyers In Hopes To Help Others
A man who spent 27½ years in Florida prison for a killing that he did not commit is now spending some of his time telling others his story.
Friday morning, William Dillon told the lawyers at the public defenders office in Jacksonville about the horrors of spending more than a quarter of a century behind bars -- longer than anyone else who has been exonerated has spent in prison.
"I was a kid, I'd never been in prison. I was assaulted from the very first hour I was there," "My heart was just gone, I felt like I'd never be a free man again... It was horrifying."
Dillon said his horror began in 1981 when he was arrested in Brevard County and charged with the beating death of James Dvorak. Even though he said he knew he didn't do the crime, he wasn't sure if he'll ever be set free.
"I lost hope. I really did. I actually lost hope multiple times," he said.
But after 24 years of incarceration, Dillon took a leap of faith: He filed a legal motion to have a DNA test done.
"I'd never filed a motion before," Dillon said.
Dillon said his motion got the attention the Innocence Project, which has a track record of exonerating prisoners through the use of DNA evidence.
Dillon said when the testing proved he was not guilty, he was released from prison in November 2008. The charges were dropped the next month.
Dillon still wears what he calls a "freedom necklace" to remind him how he felt the day he walked free -- a feeling he said he never wants to forget.
"That was amazing," Dillon said. "That's something in your life you can't experience for a second time. I can never sit here and tell you that I'll ever experience that joy."
The Innocence Project said no one else has been charged with the slaying that was originally blamed on Dillon. They also said Dillon has yet to be compensated for the years he spent in prison.
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