Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wrongly imprisoned, freed singer savors moment in spotlight at Rays game

William Dillon stood before a Tropicana Field crowd for the game against the Cleveland Indians wearing his Not Guilty T-shirt, stepped up to the mike and slowly sang of the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It was quite an experience for the 52-year-old man who had spent more than half his life locked away for a crime he didn't commit.

Columnist Sue Carlton told his story on the front page of Tuesday's Tampa Bay Times:

In 1981, he was 21 and living in Brevard County when he found himself arrested, tried and convicted of killing a man named James Dvorak.

As it turned out, a dog handler with dog scent evidence against him was discredited. A witness recanted and said she had sex with the lead investigator. And a jail informant who said Dillon confessed had pending charges dropped. But still, the jury had said guilty. Dillon went to prison.

Only when DNA testing became more prevalent did he get a valuable ally on his side: the Innocence Project. After testing proved he was innocent, he was released in 2008. This year, the governor signed a bill for $1.35 million in compensation.

Dillon, who lives in Chapel Hill, N.C., was singing at the Rays game because someone from the Innocence Project has a neighbor who works for the Rays. He was invited to sing because the Rays wanted to show their support -- and because he could sing.

Wrongly imprisoned, freed singer savors moment in spotlight at Rays game 07/18/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  2. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee
  4. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  5. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.