PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — A death row inmate convicted in a gruesome murder in the Bay area back in 1985 is trying to clear his name. 

  • James Dailey still trying to clear his name 
  • Dailey convicted of killing a 14-year-old girl in 1985
  • Attorneys for Dailey still trying to proves his innocence
  • His stay of execution expired December 30, 2019

A status hearing was held Monday, January 13, for James Dailey who was convicted and sentenced to death for killing 14-year-old Shelly Boggio. 

Officials say Boggio was drowned and stabbed and her body was found off Indian Rocks Beach. 

Dailey, now 73, and Jack Pearcy, now 64, were convicted of first-degree murder in separate trials. Pearcy was sentenced to life in prison, while Dailey was sentenced to death. 

Dailey was granted a stay of execution last year but it expired on December 30, 2019

So what's next?

During the hearing Monday, future court dates were scheduled by Judge Pat Siracusa and there's a plan put in place for a possible evidentiary hearing but all of that could change with one signature from Governor DeSantis on a new death warrant.. 

The defense is hoping Judge Siracusa will grant an evidentiary hearing so that Pearcy can testify that he committed the murder by himself — a confession Pearcy has admitted and then recanted before. 

"I think if you look at his most recent statements it is all consistent with Mr. Dailey's innocence. Am I concerned about it? I mean, you know, I want him to tell the truth," Defense Attorney Joshua Dubin said. 

But will Pearcy's version of the truth be heard? That is something the governor's signature could change, but Dubin said he is optimistic. 

"Obviously he could sign a new death warrant and set a new date. I'm confident that the governor's gonna wait and let the judicial process play out, but you never know. And I think that Judge Siracusa is going to wait and see if that happens," Dubin explained. 

Dailey's chance to clear his name?

Dailey was originally scheduled to be executed November 7, 2019, but a federal court gave defense lawyers more time to make their case. Attorneys for Dailey, however, continue to maintain his innocence. 

The filing in a Pinellas County circuit court included a signed statement from Pearcy saying he is solely responsible for the death of Boggio.

Pearcy signed a similar statement in 2017 but then refused to testify at an evidentiary hearing and Dailey's conviction was upheld.

Now an attorney for Dailey working with the innocence project said the case against him was weak and he is innocent. 

Is Dailey Innocent? Original Prosecutor Says No

However, the original prosecutor in the case said Dailey deserves the death penalty. 

It's been more than 30 years since Robert Heyman prosecuted James Dailey and Jack Pearcy for the murder of Boggio. 

"It was probably the most vicious one that I prosecuted as far as the violence that was imposed on this 14-year-old girl," Heyman said. 

For him, the details of the case are as clear now as the day of the trial. 

"I mean our belief was, she was brought out to a remote area. She was sexually assaulted. And then she was stabbed repeatedly and our belief was she was thrown in the water and when she didn't sink, when she showed signs of life, it was at that point that Mr. Dailey held her under the water until she drowned," Heyman explained. 

Dailey's attorneys say the case tried in the 80's doesn't prove any of that, especially the witness testimony about Dailey's wet pants, which the defense said he got while playing Frisbee the night of the murder. 

"Our version of events is closer to the truth that it was Dailey who was the one who actually drowned the girl. Hence the wet pants. And having seen these two individuals, Dailey and Pearcy, they weren't the Frisbee throwing type," Heyman said. 

The defense also claimed that the jailhouse witnesses weren't reliable, however, Heyman stands by the decision to put them on the stand. 

"As the old saying goes, you gotta make a deal with a sinner to catch the devil and that's what was done here," Heyman said.  “They can throw rocks at the three jailhouse witnesses all they want and its fair game but at this point it seems very interesting the statements we got from those jailhouse witnesses, exactly dovetails at the statement of Mr. Pearcy that testified or told us that Mr. Dailey did the stabbing and the drowning of the victim in this case.”

He believes the last ditch effort was a part of Pecary and Dailey's plan from day one. 

"The point right now is been the same game these guys have been playing for the last 30 years. I mean the game plan back when this case was set for trial was, Pearcy was set to go to trial. Pearcy was going to get acquitted. He was going to testify at Dailey's trial and he was going to admit that he committed the murder, but double jeopardy prevented him from being further prosecuted," Heyman explained.