TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A group of death row exonerees is calling for Gov. Ron DeSantis to spare the life of James Dailey, the man convicted more than 30 years ago of murdering a 14-year-old girl.
Dailey, 73, has been on death row since 1987 for the murder of Shelly Boggio, who was stabbed and drowned in 1985. He was implicated by testimony from three jailhouse snitches and a co-defendant who received a life sentence and later confessed.
But as his execution date nears, Dailey's case has caught the attention of a group of exonerated inmates, including Juan Melendez, who said it shares similarities with their own wrongful conviction cases.
"This case is very similar to mine," Melendez said. "It's based on snitches, testimony of snitches. People who make deals with the prosecutor."
Dailey is in line to be the 100th person put to death in Florida since executions resumed. Yet for every three executions, Florida has exonerated one death row inmate. Three exonerees said they were convicted based on stories fabricated by snitches looking for lenient sentences.
"A person that's trying to get time cut off his sentenced turned state's witness," recalled Herman Lindsey, who spent three years on death row before his conviction was overturned. "I had no other evidence against me."
"There's nothing wrong with preserving life," added Seth Penalver, who served 18 years on death row. "He could go forward with a (death) warrant. I'm pretty sure he could review the case himself."
The group has sent a flyer to the governor's office, imploring DeSantis to take a closer look at the facts involved with Dailey's case. But with Dailey set to be executed on Nov. 7, it doesn't appear as though the governor is sympathetic to his case.
"This is one of the most gruesome crimes in the history of Pinellas County," DeSantis said Tuesday. "You know, we're willing to listen to things, but this has been litigated over and over and over and, at some point, you know, you need to do justice."