NORFOLK, Va. - Governor Terry McAuliffe has pardoned four Sailors convicted for the 1997 rape and murder of a Norfolk Navy wife.
The Governor's Office released a statement Tuesday:
The Governor has approved the 4 absolute pardons in the case of the “Norfolk Four” following a careful review of the facts in the case and the recent decision by United States District Court Judge John Gibney. These pardons close the final chapter on a grave injustice that has plagued these 4 men for nearly 20 years. While former Governor Kaine had initially granted conditional pardons in the case, more exculpatory information discovered since then and detailed by Judge Gibney during exhaustive evidentiary proceedings indicate that absolute pardons are appropriate.
U.S. Navy Veterans Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Derek Tice and Eric Wilson, known as "The Norfolk Four," confessed to the crime after they were threatened with the death penalty and other high-pressure interrogation tactics. No DNA or physical evidence of any kind tied them to the crime.
All four Sailors had no criminal record and were serving in the Navy when the crime occurred, affiliate WTKR reports.
"I speak for all four of us in expressing our deepest thanks to Governor McAuliffe, who has given us our lives back with these full pardons. We have been haunted by these wrongful convictions for twenty years, which have created profound pain, hardships, and stress for each of us and our families. We now look forward to rebuilding our reputations and our lives,” said Eric Wilson.
In August 2009, then-Governor Tim Kaine granted conditional pardons to three of the Norfolk Four, which allowed their release but kept their convictions in place.
Wilson had already been released but was unable to have his innocence claims heard by any court.
Police later arrested Omar Ballard after they learned it was his DNA at the scene of the crime. He insisted he acted alone. Ballard admitted that he had been involved in a three week crime spree against women in the same neighborhood when he killed Bosko.
The lead detective on the case, Glenn Ford, was previously disciplined for obtaining false confessions and extracted the false confessions from the Norfolk Four. He was convicted in 2010 of crimes that involved lying to judges and prosecutors. He is serving a 12 year federal prison sentence.