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Appellate court turns down prisoner request to exhume body of slain Youngstown cop

Published: Thu, June 2, 2011 @ 5:36 p.m.

YOUNGSTOWN — The 7th District Court of Appeals has unanimously rejected a long-delayed request by the murderer of a city police officer for exhumation of the officer’s body in search of new evidence and for a new trial.

The appeals court ruled today that Judge Lou A. D’Apolito of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court was correct in rejecting in November 2009 the requests from William T. Dawson Jr., 43, who was convicted in the 1987 shooting death of Patrolman Paul Durkin.

Dawson admitted shooting the officer with a .22-caliber handgun, but asked that the officer’s body be exhumed to support his claim that he shot the officer in self-defense during an altercation outside the officer’s police cruiser.

The appellate court noted, however, that the evidence presented in the murder trial showed Durkin was shot while seated in the cruiser.

“It is not at all clear from appellant’s filings when he came to the conclusion that the victim’s body might contain additional evidence in his favor, but it certainly cannot be considered reasonable to wait 20 years to bring this issue to the attention of the court,” wrote Judge Cheryl L. Waite, with Judges Joseph J. Vukovich and Mary DeGenaro concurring.

Dawson, who filed the appeal without a lawyer, is serving a prison term of 18 years to life in the Belmont Correctional Institution. His next parole eligibility will be in June 2019.


1Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years ago

William T. Dawson Jr. is getting itchy to get out . The allure of the street life and the drugs that go with it are out of his grasp .

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2DEEWINSTON(3 comments)posted 5 years ago

You are right William is itching to get out...to be with the family he has missed for 24 yrs. Trust that is the only thing alluring him. Try validating your opinion with some facts.

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3AnotherAverageCitizen(1193 comments)posted 5 years ago

Paul has been missed by his family also. William should have thought about that in 1987. If william didn't shoot an Officer, he could have been with his his family for all these years. Paul could be with his family also.

You want facts.

If William would not have shot Paul that day, william would not be in prison for so many years.

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4DEEWINSTON(3 comments)posted 5 years ago

I pray you know the facts entirely before you jittle on the keyboard. How do you know that it was not self defense? Thats right you don't. Can't always believe what the media portray or in this case the courts...we do know during this time the judicial system was VERY corrupt. William has always maintained the same story from the day of occurence, that is he was provoked. The reason for William's prolonged stay in prison is not that he shot the cop...it's that he show no remorse at this later date. Call it prideful or hurt. I guess he should just beg and gravel at the board with fake remorse for something he felt he had to do to be alive himself....know the facts first. Because trust me... you don't. But God does, and His truth will be revealed because His system is never corrupt.

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5DEEWINSTON(3 comments)posted 5 years ago

Hi Stan,

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away (life). William pulled the trigger. God took his life (why?)

Source: The Vindicator
Date; September 24, 1987

Durkins career also had its moments of controversy.
A fellow patrolmen, Ernest Paul Jr. filed a charge of obstructing a police officer against Durkin iin a 1976 incident in which Paul drove his cruiser through a group of striking poicemen picketing at the downtown police garage. That charge was dismissed.
A 1978 hit-skip accident heavily damaged Durkins cruiser and sent the patrolman to the hospital with chest pains.
While on sick leave that same year, he and Wollet, also on sick leave, were involved in an argument with three New Castle men outside the Holiday Bowl on Youngstown-Poland Road. The dispute led to a scuffle in which two of the New Castle men were shot.
Both Durkin and Wollet were suspended and charged with felonious assault. These charges were reduced to simple assault in plea bargaining after witnesses in the case refused to return to the area to testify.
Common pleas Judge Elwyn V Jenkins found the patrolmen guilty and gave them suspended 30 day jail terms and fines of $200.00 each. After a suspension of more than two years, Durkin returned to the department in December of 1980.
I'm reminded of a old gospel hymn that says, May the life I live speak for me.

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