James Dailey says he received death penalty based on jailhouse informant lies: Part 6

Years before testifying at Dailey’s trial, jailhouse snitch Paul Skalnik had a history of dubious behavior from multiple wives to writing bad checks to abuse allegations.
8:44 | 10/24/20

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Transcript for James Dailey says he received death penalty based on jailhouse informant lies: Part 6
Yeah, good to me It has been more than three decades since a teenager was brutally murdered in Florida. Now he may finally be executed. Hey, man, you guys got to wrong guy. The evidence was the word after a fraud and a con man. It's terrible we're willing to put someone to death based on the world of Paul skalniy. He was a master ma nil later. He told her he was CEO of American airlines. This is the guy who's a professional con man at this point, and you knew it. And you knew it. The horrible things he did still live in my nightmares. Not only are you taking the word of a con man, you're taking the word of a child molester. The clock is ticking very loudly for James Dailey. Paul skalnik testify in the 24 cases. 24. And this is the man you used to put Dailey behind bars. We believe one of the key factors in Mr. Dailey getting the death penalty was the testimony of Paul skalnik. I say to you there could be no conviction without Paul skalnik. What was your reaction when they did decide to put you to death? Well, I went out, sat down on a bench, and there was a mental health guy there. And I just started crying. He says, what's the matter? And I said, well, I was just sentenced to death for a crime I didn't commit. There was no evidence at all. The evidence that they had was the word of a fraud and a con man, this guy Paul skalnik. Dailey insists that it was impossible for him to be in position to give skalnik a confession, physically impossible. James Dailey says just weeks before his trial, he was moved to the same wing of the pinellas county jail as Paul skalnik. Right before Mr. Dailey's trial in may, Paul skalnik is in an isolated cell, because he's having to be protected, because other inmates know he's a snitch. We were on "G" wing. He was in a single cell. I was in a pod of about 16 guys. And according to Paul skalnik, as he's walking down the hallway, Dailey shouts at him through this double layer of bars -- oh, hey, let me talk to you. And so according to skalnik, they talk. Mr. Dailey says, you know, he killed her. And I held her under and she just wouldn't die. She kept screaming and looking at me. So basically, you would have to have shouted -- I would have had to yelled my confession to him. This case even drew the ire of renowned columnist and crime novelist Carl hiaasen. He's just gonna call somebody over to his, passing by his cell, and say, hey, let me tell you a story about this homicide. As a journalist someone who has written a lot about death row cases and about a lot about homicides, no. Doesn't make any sense. Particularly if you know skalnik is a snitch. Everybody in jail knew he was the world's biggest snitch. I mean, even the officers in the county jail told us not to talk to him, you know? If you talk to him he's going to go to court against you. Prosecutors assured the jury and skalnik swore to this, he wasn't promised anything and there was no deal in return for his blockbuster testimony. Even though he was facing up to 20 years for grand theft, if convicted. He said, oh, I'm not getting any benefit out of this." After Mr. Dailey's trial, Paul skalnik is released on his own recognizance, which means he doesn't have to put up bail. He was released five days after James Dailey got the death sentence. They let him walk out. They insist that there's no correlation. But there's no other explanation I mean, you'd have to be an idiot not to figure that out. It happens too many times when you use jailhouse snitches. They say, "Have you made any deal with the state --" "Oh, no, sir, I have not." And then the case is over and quietly cases are dismissed or he's let out of jail. During trial, jurors were told skalnik had been a police officer and were assured he was quote "Honest" and "Reliable." But the most important information about skalnik that was not shared were some of the darkest parts of his past. I knew Paul skalnik for about the last 60 years, I guess, because he was on my little league team. I think he could have been anything he wanted to be because he was a really, really intelligent guy. Paul sklanik was born in 1949. Was adopted, raised in league city, Texas. He started out on the right track it seemed. Yearbook photos show him in the student council. He did the key club. He was even voted president of the future business leaders of America. After high school, went to the New Mexico military institute for a short stint. Then went on to become a police officer. He was a police officer about five minutes in Austin, Texas. And sometime after that, his life took a drastic turn. He was charged with theft. It was a bunch of hot checks. Officer skalnik allowed to resign from the force, slips into a new career, as seen in this 1973 newspaper ad, as trusty insurance agent. He does this as he secretly pursues a life of grifting and crime. By age 30 skalnik had already been divorced twice. And his third wife was penny Rogers. Now according to penny's daughter, skalnik was a master manipulator who at first swept penny right off her feet. I thought my mother had found the most wonderful guy. He told me I was his princess and that I could call him dad, but I never did. I was 15 years old, it was in 1977 when Paul skalnik came into our lives. He had met my mother at the funeral home where she worked. I believe somebody in his family had passed away, extended he just swept her off her feet. He told her that he was CEO of southwest airlines. He would get dressed in a three-piece suit, all his gold and diamonds. We would always go to the cowboys games. We'd stay at the hotel, the suites, have a good time. We had cheesecake. There was champagne. Come checkout time though, he carried a big old thing of credit cards. They wouldn't take his card, he wrote a check. But what got me he was always stealing the robes and the towels. He would bring her home roses. He gave her the big $649 microwave. A couple months later they got married. He claimed to be working for the CIA, an informant for the FBI. And it was just these grandiose ideas of who he was, and none of it was true. He got to be very abusive. He would lock my brother up in a room, beat him. My mom, he would beat her. He was -- started touching me inappropriately. I was like, what did I do? What did I do to make him do that? Unfortunately skalnik was just getting started. Once in Florida, this guy had more cruel acts up his sleeve. When he got in trouble, the first thing he did is start snitching, and he became a valuable informant. He testified in 35 cases for the pinellas county state attorney's office, which is an exorbitantly high mber in my opinion. But the question is, why? Why does he seem to be their go-to witness?

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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