Tag Archive: Florida Innocence Project

A judicial panel met in Tallahassee for the first time to address the problem with wrongfully convicted defendants.
Months ago I wrote an article on Bill Dillon. He was from Brevard County and was wrongfully convicted of murder. He sat on death row for 27 years all the while declaring his innocence. Gratefully the Florida Innocence Program took on his case and he is now a free man.
Sadly he’s just one of hundreds who have been wrongfully convicted in our country. As an American this does not make me proud, but for the fact that we recognize our mistakes and take action to fix the problem, I am proud. This is monumental for the state of Florida and I am thrilled to report Judge Belvin Perry will sit on this panel.
If ever I doubted Casey Anthony would get a fair trial, the thought is now on hold. I’m much more confident today after reading this article from the Miami Herald. Since potentially Casey Anthony’s jurors will come from Miami/Dade County and with probable media coverage of the conferences hopefully the public will become aware of this problem and hopefully the seated jurors will pay heed to common mistakes of the past.

False identification by eye witnesses was the major cause for erroneous convictions, along with invalid forensic evidence, false confessions and bad informants aka jailhouse snitches.

A national study of 225 people exonerated through DNA testing, conducted by the Innocence Project, an advocacy organization for defendants helped set these parameters for the commission. The commission will not help exonerations but will attempt to set new standards, rules and laws in order to prevent false convictions in the future. They intend to complete this report by June 2012. Knowledge is the key to prevention. “Better late than never” I say.
Nationally wrongful convictions are far to many in my opinion. I found Florida held the highest number of death row exonerations at 23 as reported in April 2009. These are just the exonerations. What about the innocent people who haven’t found the right attorney to help them? Or the ones who no one cares about because they are poor and have no family? These are the ones who become lost in the system.
As to how we feel about Casey Anthony’s guilt or innocence is not the issue. Caylee Anthony deserves true justice not a tabloid verdict to please the public. There’s no need for dishonesty or lawyer/prosecution trickery, Justice prevails when the facts speak for itself.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/09/11/1818777/florida-innocence-commission-seeks.html#ixzz0zIaPdvKK


Beware of the Dogs


There is a sad story about a wrongly convicted man named Bill Dillon, who spent 27 years in a Florida prison for a heinous murder he did not commit.  He was only 21 years old at the time of the murder. Dog handler John Preston testified in court that he and his scent-tracking German shepherd connected Dillon to the killer’s bloody T-shirt. Preston said his dog, Harass 2, even tracked Dillon’s scent repeatedly in later tests.

Eventually, Dillon was convicted partly because of Preston and his track dog Harrass2. 

Preston was discredited in 1984, after a Florida judge who had become suspicious of Preston set up his own test for Harrass 2. The dog failed terribly.

Documents obtained by CNN show he could not even follow a scent for 100 feet. The judge determined the dog could track successfully only when his handler had advance knowledge of the case.

Dillon thinks Preston and his scent-tracking dog were part of a larger conspiracy.

“Preston could lead the dog to the suspect or the evidence,” alleges Dillon, but “any cases that were weak, not good enough to go to the jury, they [the prosecution] fed Preston information, paid him good money to come and lie.”

Florida’s Attorney General told CNN it is not aware of any evidence of a conspiracy involving John Preston and his dog.

Though Preston was discredited, Florida never reviewed cases on which he’d testified . And nobody ever told Dillon — who sat in prison another 20 years before he found out. It wasn’t until 2006 that he heard Preston was a fake.

Florida’s Innocence Project believes dozens of inmates around the country may have been wrongly convicted as a result of John Preston and his dog. It is calling for an investigation of those cases. Meanwhile, Preston, the dog’s handler, died. He was never charged with a crime.

A FLORIDA TODAY report on Sunday found more than 15 cases where the state or Brevard County law enforcement agencies used Preston. In one case, that of confessed serial killer Gerald Stano, Preston claimed his dog could track an 81/2-year-old scent. He was also used in cases against Juan Ramos and Wilton Dedge — both of whom have been released from prison after being exonerated.

In Dillon’s case, Preston testified that his dog tracked Dillon’s scent from a wadded up piece of paper to Dillon and to a bloody yellow T-shirt prosecutors say was worn by the killer. But last year DNA testing on sweat stains on the collar and inside the armpit areas of the shirt showed someone else’s DNA and not Dillon’s.

“Do you feel Preston put you into prison?” Kaye asked.

“Yes,” Dillon said. “Yes I do.”


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