CNN tells William Dillon's story this week

On Monday, a crew from CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" news show interviewed Dillon and an attorney from the Innocence Project of Florida at an oceanfront hotel. The show, appearing on the "Keeping them Honest" segment, is scheduled to air Wednesday night.
Reporter Randi Kaye asked Dillon, from Satellite Beach, a dozen or so questions related to now-deceased dog handler John Preston, who was discredited in 1984. A television show in 1986 further discredited the Pennsylvania-based dog handler.
Preston's testimony helped convict Dillon of murder in 1981. Dillon spent 27 years in prison before being released last year after DNA evidence excluded him from a key piece of evidence in the case.
The state did not exonerate Dillon, choosing instead to drop charges due to lack of evidence.
"If they proved him a fraud in 1986, why didn't the state look at all the cases he worked on?" Dillon responded to one of Kaye's questions. "I thought about that dog handler every day in prison."
State Attorney Norman Wolfinger says it's the responsibility of those incarcerated -- not his office -- to look into those cases.
"I've never blamed the dog," Dillon said. "Preston was fed information on cases where they didn't have suspects."
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."
Contact Torres at 242-3649 or jtorres@floridatoday.com

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