08/29/07 — A search for evidence long-though-destroyed cleared Dail

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A search for evidence long-though-destroyed cleared Dail

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 29, 2007 1:46 PM

Dwayne Allen Dail is a free man -- in part because of the Goldsboro Police Department.

Several weeks ago, Chris Mumma of the Innocence Project contacted the police department for some help for her client.

She wanted to know if there was any evidence left from Dail's original trial nearly 20 years ago.

At the time, Superior Court Judge Frank Brown ordered all evidence destroyed.

But, even then, Ms. Mumma and Dail had hope.

Officer Robert Smith came to their rescue.

Ms. Mumma asked Smith to search for the 1987 records, and once he found the case number and paperwork, he uncovered information that should have been previously destroyed.

Former crime scene investigator Sgt. Ron Melvin, now deceased, had kept handwritten files from previous cases -- for unknown reasons.

While searching for the information in one of the department's evidence rooms, Smith found Melvin's files, and with them, a sealed box full of evidence for Dail's case.

Among the evidence were a nightgown and a sheet from the victim's bed.

"Thank goodness it was kept," Goldsboro Police Chief Tim Bell said. "Thank goodness he had a sixth sense about it."

The box was sent to the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation Lab in Raleigh on Aug. 9 where Goldsboro police and Wayne County District Attorney Branny Vickory met up to open it.

The evidence was then tested.

Special Agent Jerry Richardson, director of the lab, told Vickory that the test results excluded Dail's DNA from the semen found on some materials at the scene.

When asked how he felt about helping Dail get out from behind bars, Smith said, "I'm glad that an innocent man has gone free."

"Now, I just need to get the bad guy," he said.