Eric Wilson, one of four Navy sailors who was wrongfully convicted of a 1997 Norfolk, Virginia, rape and murder based almost exclusively own false confessions was released years ago, but he is still fighting to clear his name.
Wilson’s three co-defendants in the “Norfolk Four” case were released in 2009 when the Governor granted conditional pardons based on serious questions about their guilt. DNA tests have pointed to the involvement of another man, who had no prior acquaintance with the four men and says that he committed the crime alone. Wilson, however, gained nothing from the pardons. He was already out on parole with a standing rape conviction and forced to register as a sex offender.
Wilson is ineligible for jobs on many government sites and is prevented from applying for a passport, adopting his young stepson, or attending any of his school functions. Although a divided three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, recently said that it’s too late to review his case since he is no longer in custody, Wilson is now requesting a hearing before the Supreme Court on his challenge to his conviction, reported
The New York Times
In a concurrence, Judge Andre M. Davis said the court’s precedents required him to vote against Mr. Wilson. But the judge said Mr. Wilson’s case was compelling. “Morally and legally, he is clearly entitled, in my judgment, to a judicial forum,” Judge Davis wrote.
That was the concurrence. In dissent, Judge James A. Wynn Jr., wrote that he was “deeply troubled that our legal system would be construed to prevent a person with compelling evidence of his actual innocence and wrongful conviction from accessing a forum in which to clear his name.”
“This court has the authority — indeed, the moral imperative — to grant Wilson the hearing that he seeks,” Judge Wynn wrote.
When Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli didn’t file a response, the Supreme Court instructed him last week to file a brief by April 25.