On the afternoon of August 19, 1993, the body of Dalton Pace was found in his home in Decatur, Alabama, shot once in the chest and twice in the back. Pace, who ran a junkyard from his home, was known to carry large rolls of cash. The killer stole all of the money off of Pace’s body, except what was in his wallet.
Gary Drinkard’s half-sister, Beverly Robinson, and her common law husband, Rex Segar, were facing unrelated robbery charges. In a deal with police, they implicated Drinkard in the murder of Pace and in exchange the charges against them were dropped. Based on that evidence, police arrested Drinkard on September 1, 1993.
At trial Robinson and Segar testified that Drinkard had confessed to them that he committed the murders. Drinkard’s court-appointed lawyers, who had no experience, failed to call two critical witnesses: one who would have testified that Drinkard was at home at the time of the murder, and another who would have said that Drinkard had a back injury that would have made it impossible for him to commit the crime. On September 22, 1995 Drinkard was convicted of felony murder. He was sentenced to death.
In 2000, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a new trial because prosecutors had improperly introduced evidence at trial of his involvement in unrelated robberies, possibly biasing the jury. Drinkard was acquitted at his second trial after his legal defense team from the Southern Center for Human Rights presented the exculpatory evidence that was missing from his first trial: that he was at home when the murder took place, and that he had a back injury that would have made it physically impossible for him to commit the murder. He was released on May 21, 2001.
– Karen Oprea