Petition Against James Dailey’s Execution

James M. Dailey should not be Killed! – Stop The Execution!

The Jewish tradition places a significant emphasis on the value of every human life. As it says in Mishna Sanhedrin 5:4: A “single person was created in the world, to teach that if any man has caused a single life to perish…, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had caused a whole world to perish; and anyone who saves a single soul, he is deemed by Scripture as if he had saved a whole world.” Thus because of this emphasis on human life, in a discussion about capital punishment, there is a significant pressure to ensure that the court and its fallible human judge are wholly acurate in its sentence. For that reason, and for all cases that discussed capital punishment, twenty-three judges were needed as opposed to the three required for non-capital cases (Mishna Sanhedrin 4:1). On top of that, even if the death penalty were to be carried out, it would have “increased the shedders of blood in Israel,” putting a death decreed by the court on the same level as a murder done on the street (Makkot, 1:10). 


What we see today in the case of James M. Dailey, however, does not express the view to caring deeply for the life of every individual. Rather, the Dailey case displays how hasty and shoddy prosecution increases bloodshed in the world and, in the process, unnecessarily takes the life of a man who, according to all evidence, is not to be found guilty. That is why Uri L’Tzedek, in partnership with other interfaith allies, is calling on the governor of Florida, the Honorable Ron DeSantis to issue clemency to prevent the unnecessary execution of James Dailey. 


James Dailey was scheduled to be executed in Florida on Nov. 7, 2019. He was granted a stay to explore his claims of innocence. However, on December 11, US District Court judge William Jung ruled that the state’s case against Dailey was “not strong, but it was sufficient.” Dailey has spent more than thirty years on death row for a murder he did not commit. The Florida Supreme Court has yet to rule on his substantial claims of actual innocence. The Governor must intervene to prevent the execution of a man not appropriately judged, and he can do so by ensuring that a clemency hearing allows for a full airing of the facts currently available.


According to the Tampa Bay Times and the News Service of Florida, the case against Mr. Dailey was built only on circumstantial evidence. Here are the facts:

  • No physical evidence tying Mr. Dailey to the murder.
  • The prosecutor noted in closing arguments that there was no “physical evidence,” “no fingerprints,” and “no hair or fibers.”
  • No eyewitnesses placed Mr. Dailey at the site of the victim’s death.
  • The State bolstered its circumstantial case by using unreliable and uncorroborated inmate testimony to convict Mr. Dailey even though there is evidence that law enforcement pressured witnesses to come forward and showed them newspaper articles detailing facts about the crime in an effort to induce testimony, and the jailhouse informants were then given substantial leniency in their own criminal cases.
  • The detectives went so far as to use a known con man and child sexual offender who had a pending child sexual assault case dismissed by prosecutors over the course of his cooperation, and who was released without bond following his testimony against Mr. Dailey, where after he continued to commit sexual crimes against children.
  • The prosecutor at Mr. Dailey’s trial has since stated that she believes the snitch would not give truthful testimony.
  • The State failed to correct his blatantly false testimony at Mr. Dailey’s original trial.
  • Prosecutors have opposed granting Mr. Dailey a new trial even though Mr. Dailey’s original jury never heard the vast majority of the evidence relating to his innocence.
  • The physical evidence that exists already excludes Mr. Dailey as a match. Read this op-ed by a former prosecutor.
  • FBI forensic experts determined that the hair found in the victim’s hand did not match Mr. Dailey.
  • Another man, Jack Pearcy, repeatedly confessed to being solely responsible and confessed to murdering the victim in a signed affidavit.
  • Prior to trial, Pearcy failed a polygraph and asked police to see a priest.
  • While in county jail awaiting trial, Jack Pearcy told fellow inmate Travis Smith that he was Dailey’s co-defendant but “Pearcy committed the crime himself . . . [this] was his charge and his charge alone.”
  • Police reports from May 1985 reveal that Mr. Pearcy left his residence with the victim shortly before the crime and Mr. Dailey was not with them; Pearcy then returned home alone. This police report was wrongfully withheld from Mr. Dailey’s trial attorneys.    
  • Deposition testimony from June 1986 shows that Mr. Pearcy was seen alone, with the victim, near the crime scene, around the time the victim was killed.
  • Jack Pearcy has an extensive history of violence, particularly against women. Pearcy’s Kansas criminal court file includes arrests for battery, terroristic threats, rape and assault. Pearcy was also indicted in still another capital case, a murder-for-hire in Missouri.
  • James Dailey is a Veteran who proudly served his country during three tours in Vietnam and a tour in Korea.  
  • Mr. Dailey has no prior record of violence against women. Instead, there are numerous documented incidents of his defending young, vulnerable women from acts of violence, including one incident in which Dailey was stabbed eleven times and almost died after he had stepped in to defend a young woman from her violent, angry boyfriend.


The facts of the case are messy, but one thing is clear: Jame M. Dailey doesn’t deserve to perish for a crime he did not commit. To allow his death would implicate the State of Florida, indeed, all of us as citizens of the United States in the needless execution of a man who did not commit the crimes he’s accused of. Jewish tradition warns against the wanton, cruel, and reckless death sentences. Be a voice to protect and spare a life! We call on you to add your voice to this statement, asking the governor of Florida to give clemency and support to James M. Dailey, another victim of a cruel system that favors retribution over true justice.