ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A man who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit belted out the national anthem to celebrate his freedom at the Rays game Wednesday night.
William Dillon, 52, was convicted in 1981 for the murder of James Bvorak in Brevard County when he was just 21-years-old.
Bvorak was beaten to death and the real murderer hitchhiked a ride to a bar, then left his bloody clothes behind in a car.
A police dog matched the scent on the clothes to Dillon.
But Dillon maintained that he was innocent, and after an organization called the Innocence Project took on his case, a DNA test conducted in 2008 cleared him of the murder.
Dillon was an aspiring baseball player himself who caught the attention of Detroit Tigers and he was also sung in the high school choir before being sentenced to prison, according to a Huffington Post report (http://huff.to/NIrF48).
Governor Rick Scott personally apologized to Dillon and announced a $1.35 million compensation package for him.
Despite losing nearly three decades of his life, he wanted to celebrate his freedom, his love for his country and inspire others by opening the Rays game with the national anthem.
He got his wish. Wearing a shirt that read, "Not Guilty", he walked onto Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Wednesday night, and combined his love of baseball and song with a passionate rendition of the National Anthem.
Dillon now lives in North Carolina with his girlfriend.
To see the performance, watch it in the video player above.
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