Earlier this month, three members of the “Norfolk Four” were freed from a Virginia prison after Gov. Tim Kaine granted them a conditional pardon based on “serious doubts” about their guilt. The fourth man was freed in 2005 and not pardoned. All four were convicted of a 1997 murder in Norfolk they say they didn’t commit. DNA testing has tied a fifth man, Omar Ballard, to the crime and he has confessed to killing the victim alone.
The pardons don’t declare the men innocent, however, and a group of FBI agents wrote in the New York Times yesterday that justice won’t be done until the men are granted full pardons.
Our comprehensive review of the Norfolk Four matter left us with no doubt that the so-called confessions given by the Norfolk Four were coerced, false confessions and as such were completely unreliable.
The governor should grant the Norfolk Four absolute pardons. It is the least that can now be done for these four men who served their nation honorably as members of the United States Navy.
The New York Times wrote in an editorial on August 17, writing that “the men should not give up” because “the miscarriage of justice in this case has been diminished, but not wiped away.”