Is Florida death row inmate James Dailey innocent?

Anti-death penalty sign
Anti-death penalty sign posted on Flikr (Creative Commons).

James Dailey is on death row for the 1985 murder in Pinellas County of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio; another man was also convicted of the murder who says he acted alone.

In October WMNF interviewed an attorney with the federal public defender’s office in Tampa; Carol Wright said that “Florida is about to execute an innocent man.”

On WMNF’s MidPoint Monday on December 16 we spoke by phone with one of Dailey’s attorneys. Josh Dubin is president of Dubin Research and Consulting.

Listen to the show here.

ProPublica and the New York Times published a story about an informant who testified against Dailey. The article is called, “He’s a Liar, a Con Artist and a Snitch. His Testimony Could Soon Send a Man to His Death.” It’s subtitled, “Paul Skalnik has a decadeslong criminal record and may be one of the most prolific jailhouse informants in U.S. history. The state of Florida is planning to execute a man based largely on his word.”

Here’s the beginning of a 1987 St. Petersburg Times article about Skalnik: “Paul E. Skalnik, con man extraordinaire, apparently has done it again. Two months after he was released from jail by convincing a judge that his life was in danger, Skalnik is nowhere to be found. This time, he has left prosecutors without their key witness in three murder cases and a Palm Harbor woman without her groom.”

The same judge who effectively canceled Dailey’s execution six weeks before ago appears unconvinced by claims that the death row inmate might be innocent of a 1985 Pinellas County murder.

Recently a U.S. District Judge (William Jung) rejected a number of Dailey’s new appeals. The judge was skeptical of some claims by the defense. It’s the same judge who ordered a temporary stay.

The stay of execution that a judge imposed in October remains in place until December 30th. But what happens after that?
Dubin says courts have denied Dailey’s appeals on procedural grounds rather than judging them on their merits. But he’s asking for a clemency hearing so facts can be brought to light.


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