James Dailey remains on death row in Florida, and was granted a temporary stay of execution. His execution was scheduled for November, 2020, before the stay was granted.
Dailey was convicted in the brutal 1985 murder of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio in Florida. She was found in a waterway nude with 31 stab wounds on her body. Many of the wounds were to her hands, which police said were likely defensive wounds as she tried to protect herself. A medical examiner said she was likely alive when she was dragged into the water and left to drown, according to The New York Times Magazine.
The case is being examined on ABC 20/20 in “The Perfect Liar,” an episode that looks into the use of confidential informants in jail and Paul Skalink, who testified against Dailey and three others who were sentenced to death. The episode airs at 9 p.m. Eastern time Friday, October 23, 2020.
Here’s what you need to know:
James Dailey Is on Death Row in the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida
THIS STORY should shake your faith in our legal system: Paul Skalnik is a “con man” & ex-cop who cheated his wives, ratted on strangers, & racked up arrests. Hard to fathom a less credible informant – but there’s a man on death row rn on his testimony
— Keri Blakinger (@keribla) December 4, 2019
Dailey remains on death row, and is incarcerated in the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida, according to his prison record. Raiford is a town of fewer than 300 people in northern central Florida, outside of its inmate population at the state prison. The prison has a population of 2,172, according to its website.
Dailey is now 74 years old. He was sentenced to death August 7, 1987 after a jury found him guilty in the death of Boggio in Pinellas County, Florida.
Here is his prison record:
Skalink provided information to police as an informant in 35 cases, including Dailey’s.
In 1984, he sent a letter to Sen. Lawton Chiles of Florida requesting favorable treatment.
“I have placed 34 individuals in prison, including four on death row,” the letter said.
Attorneys With the Innocence Project Are Fighting for Dailey
“Based on the known history of informant convict felon Paul Skalnik, I do not see the fairness in executing James Dailey,” says a retired special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville division.
— Opinion by Tampa Bay Times (@TBTimes_Opinion) January 4, 2020
Attorneys representing Dailey told 20/20 there is no forensic or physical evidence tying him to the murder of Boggio. At the time of the murder, Jack Pearcy, Dailey’s housemate, was identified as a suspect in the case. He pinned the blame on Dailey, confessing that he stabbed the girl at least once, but said that Dailey was the one who killed her, according to The New York Times Magazine.
Pearcy signed a declaration in December, saying he acted alone in the death of Boggio, but later recanted, according to 20/20.
“James Dailey had nothing to do with the murder of Shelly Boggio,” the declaration said. “I committed the crime alone. James Dailey was back at the house when I drove Shelly Boggio to the place where I ultimately killed her.”
Maybe the best piece ever written about a jailhouse snitch: @pamelacolloff 's searing, unforgettable portrait of Paul Skalnik, the pathological informant used by FL prosecutors even as he preyed upon children and committed other harmful crimes…. https://t.co/x7KdNBz6Ne
— The Open File (@openfilesite) December 4, 2019
Pearcy refused to testify at a hearing March 10, and said he was innocent. He has made conflicting statements over the years about who committed the crime, according to the Tampa Bay Times. In May, 2020, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa issued an order saying there was no new evidence to grant Dailey a new trial.
“Unfortunately, the trial court ruled today that it could not consider the overwhelming evidence of Mr. Dailey’s innocence, including Jack Pearcy’s repeated confessions that he committed the murder alone, because of its view concerning a number of technical legal requirements,” Dailey’s lead defense attorney, Josh Dubin, told the newspaper. “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling and will continue to fight for justice for James Dailey. He did not murder Shelly Boggio.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Dailey’s execution order in September, 2019, setting the date for November 7, 2020. A federal judge granted a stay of execution to allow Dailey’s attorneys more time to research and argue the case.