Four men who say they were wrongfully convicted of a 1997 Virginia murder were dealt a setback today when the Virginia Supreme Court reversed an earlier ruling granting one of the men, Derek Tice, a new trial. Tice, 37, had argued that he was wrongfully convicted based on a false confession that never should have been presented to the jury. Tice and three other men, Danial Williams, Joseph Dick and Eric Wilson (collectively know as the “Norfolk Four”) were convicted of the murder that another man, Omar Ballard, has admitted he committed alone. DNA evidence has since shown that Ballard is telling the truth, but Tice, Williams and Dick remain behind bars, serving life sentences.
Today’s state Supreme Court decision overrules a Norfolk judge’s ruling that Tice deserved a new trial because his confession should have been suppressed. At a news conference scheduled for this afternoon in Richmond, Virginia, four former Virginia attorneys general are expected to announce their support for the claims raised by the “Norfolk Four” defendants. The four men also have clemency petitions pending before Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine. In 2006, 11 jurors from Tice’s trial signed letters stating they now believe he is innocent.
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. (Washington Post, 01/11/08)
Read more about the case, and about how false confessions can lead to wrongful convictions