Man on death row for five years found innocent
May 26, 2001
DECATUR, Alabama (AP) -- A north Alabama man who spent five years on
prison's death row has been found innocent at retrial.
Gary Wayne Drinkard, 45, of Falkville was released Friday after a Morgan
County jury found him innocent of capital murder charges in the robbery-slaying
of Decatur businessman Dalton Pace.
Drinkard's first conviction had been overturned by the Alabama Supreme
Court because prosecutors were allowed to talk about Drinkard's prior criminal
Pace was killed at his home on Aug. 18, 1993 and robbed of about $2,000,
according to testimony.
Drinkard had been held in the Morgan County Jail since last July while
awaiting retrial. He had spent five years on death row awaiting an execution
Drinkard's lawyers during this week's retrial attacked the credibility
of the prosecution witnesses. Prosecutors called several witnesses, including
Drinkard's adopted daughter and his half-sister.
Kelly Drinkard Harvell, who testified in 1995 that her father was at
home when police said he killed Pace, changed her testimony and now says
Drinkard was not at home the entire evening of the murder. Defense attorneys
couple that manages a motel in Panama City, Fla., who testified that
Harvell worked for them and she stole money. Harvell admitted she had grand
theft and possession of a controlled substance charges pending in Florida.
Drinkard's half-sister, Beverly Segars, helped police build the case
against Drinkard. She testified this week about wearing a tape-recording
device to get him to talk about Pace's murder. But the recorded conversation
was distorted and authorities had it enhanced to make clear some of the
Statements on the transcript from it were fragmented. Segars testified
that Drinkard told her he didn't realize how big Pace was until he grabbed
him. However, she was not asked to interpret the partial statements of
Rex Segars, the half-sister's common-law husband at the time, testified
that Drinkard told him he killed Pace and took about $2,200 from the auto
Other witnesses, Willodene Brock and Thomas Carter, testified that
they were at Drinkard's home on Aug. 18, and he was there the entire time.
Brock said she went there to help Harvell deliver her dog's puppies and
they left around
Authorities estimated the time of Pace's death to be around 8 p.m.,
according to testimony.
Beverly Segars' son, Robert Lambert, testified that his mother had
a reputation for not telling the truth and said he would not believe her