It was awesome to see William (Bill) Dillon sing the “Star-spangled Banner” (click for video) before the Tampa Bay Rays’ baseball game last night. IPF staff, interns, former interns, board members and their families turned out to support William in this amazing opportunity. For him personally, it represented and upheld many values and talents.
Bill was a few days shy of his second try-out with the Detroit Tigers when he was questioned and eventually arrested for a murder that DNA testing years later proved he did not commit. His other promising talents included working as carpenter and a mechanic in a bowling alley.
Bill is also an artist. He has been singing since he was a little boy. His songwriting and singing abilities garnered national attention with the release of his first album, Black Robes and Lawyers. Therefore, singing before a baseball game was the ultimate mesh of his talents.
Fox News asked Bill how he felt prior to taking the field to sing and throw the first pitch: “It’s a miracle in its own right. I just hope it’s not so emotional for me that I can’t sing the song.”
Wearing the shirt he wore on the first day of freedom, Bill sang the nation’s song that celebrates its own freedom. By doing so, he demonstrated his own gratefulness for freedom with his renewed trust in the country.
ABC News quoted Bill saying, “I firmly believed in the justice system….I was so young and naive. It wasn’t until I was in prison that I realized I was stuck.”
But Bill now wishes to represent the possibilities of America: “I firmly believe in freedom and I believe America stands for freedom. I’m a symbol of hope that things can happen even if you lose hope you have to keep going on. All they have to do is look at my story. You can’t give up.”
You can read more in-depth about his conviction and exoneration on his case profile page.