Nov 24 2008

The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions and the Norfolk Four

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the wrong guysEarlier this month, thirty retired FBI agents went public in seeking clemency for the so-called “Norfolk Four.” In 1997, Derek Tice, Joseph Dick, Daniel Williams, and Eric Wilson were convicted in the brutal rape and killing of Michelle Moore-Bosko. The four sailors were found guilty on the basis of their confessions. However, soon after the trial, the four men recanted and claimed that their admissions were coerced through the threat of the death penalty. Corroborating these claims, the retired FBI agents argue that the confessions are not consistent with evidence in the case. They cite the fact that no physical evidence at the crime scene directly incriminates the four sailors, and that what evidence was available to investigators pointed to a sole perpetrator. Those petitioning for clemency in the case of the Norfolk Four, say that Omar Ballard, who was convicted of the crime based on DNA evidence, is that sole perpetrator. Ballard wrote a letter from prison to a friend where he stated he acted alone. Citing this and other issues, an editorial in the New York Times has also joined the former agents in urging Governor Kaine of Virginia to issue the Norfolk Four a pardon. Three of the four men remain in jail on life sentences. Eric Wilson was released after serving eight years in prison, but is still seeking clemency for his rape conviction.

GUEST: Tom Wells, author of “The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions and the Norfolk Four”, earlier books include The War Within: America’s Battle Over Vietnam, and Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg

One response so far

One Response to “The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions and the Norfolk Four”

  1. Laura3109on 26 Nov 2008 at 8:05 am

    On Tuesday, November 25, Governor Kaine stated that he finds it difficult to discount the confessions of these individuals, even though there is not a shred of physical evidence to link these men to the crime, and even though it is a known fact that the police coerced the confessions by lying to the suspects about details in the case.

    Gov. Kaine also said that even though experts in all fields, including a group of 30 retired FBI agents, have spoken out against the convictions, he feels that their opinions have not been inclusive of the views of prosecutors and investigators. He said that the agents “had not talked to the prosecutors and investigators…..So they’ve kind of looked at it from all sides. And I am. And will only make a decision when I feel like the matter is completely clear for a decision.”

    The petition was filed when Gov Mark Warner was in office. It is my belief that Gov Kaine wishes to follow the example of his predecessor in this case. Kaine is not known for great generosity in the granting of pardons.