In an article reported yesterday by the Associated Press (AP), there are new developments in the case of the now-infamous Norfolk Four—four U.S. Navy veterans who were wrongly convicted based on false confessions—a story that the
has been following and documenting for nearly eight years.
According to the AP, two of the Norfolk Four—Danial Williams and Joseph Dick Jr.—testified at a evidentiary hearing held yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia, in an effort to get their convictions overturned in the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko.
In 1997, Moore-Bosko was found stabbed to death in her Norkolk home. Williams, who was Moore-Bosco’s neighbor, became a target because he supposedly had a crush on the victim. The police took him in for questioning. He was interrogated for more than 11 grueling hours. Confused and overwhelmed, Williams eventually confessed, but only after he was forced by the police to rehearse the confession several times before making a recorded statement.
A number of months later, Dick and two of Williams’ other friends—Derek Tice and Eric Wilson– had confessed to roles in the crime after aggressive interrogations. The AP reports that Dick and Tice said that the detective questioning them—Robert Glenn Ford—threatened them with the death penalty if they did not admit guilt. “My head was so spun around I didn’t know left from right, up from down,” Dick said at the hearing, according to the AP.
Williams said on Thursday that he confessed because he simply wanted the questioning to end. “I just couldn’t take it anymore,” Williams said, according to the AP. “I couldn’t take being called a liar, the pressure.”
A forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Richard Ratner, testified at Thursday’s hearing. The AP reports that Ratner described Dick as having traits of being “extremely suggestible” and easily intimidated, making him more susceptible to the detectives’ aggressive tactics during the time of the interrogation.
Evidence surfaced that another man, Omar Ballard, had written a letter admitting that he killed the victim. He told police he committed the crime alone, and DNA evidence confirmed this—the profile left at the crime scene by the perpetrator matched Ballard—none of the Norfolk Four. Ballard is serving a life sentence.
According to Norfolkfour.com, Williams, Dick and Tice, spent nearly a dozen years behind bars, and Wilson served eight and a half years. The AP reports that Derek Tice is the only member of the Norfolk Four who has been exonerated. The other three are out of prison, but their convictions remain.
Today U.S. District Judge John Gibney will hear from the prosecution’s witnesses, including detectives who worked on the case.