News 11.02.09

Jailhouse Snitch Recants in Florida Case

A Florida man said today at a legislative hearing that he was coerced into testifying falsely against William Dillon 28 years ago, contributing to Dillon’s wrongful conviction for a murder he didn’t commit. The hearing was focused on state compensation for Dillon, who spent 27 years in prison before DNA testing obtained by the Innocence Project of Florida proved his innocence and led to his release one year ago this month.

Roger Dale Chapman, who was in jail on a drug charge when Dillon was arrested, said at the hearing that Brevard County law enforcement officers offered to set him free in exchange for his coached testimony against Dillon. Two officers sat with him during a recorded interview and wrote answers in a notebook for him to read on tape, he said. Chapman apologized to Dillon today for his role in the injustice, and Dillon forgave him, saying: "I know you were used. I know they pressured you."

Another Brevard County exoneree, Innocence Project client Wilton Dedge, was convicted based in part on the testimony of a notorious jailhouse snitch, who testified that Dedge confessed to him while the two men were in jail. Informant or snitch testimony has played a role in at least 15% of the 245 wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing to date.

Dillon is seeking $1.35 million in compensation for the 27 years he spent in prison.

Read the full story here

. (Florida Today, 11/2/09)

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