Gov. Timothy M. Kaine conditionally pardoned three men today for their alleged role in the rape of an 18-year-old woman in Norfolk in 1997.
The three – Derek Tice, Danial Williams and Joseph Dick Jr. – confessed to the murder, as did Eric Wilson, who was released in 2005 after serving an 8-1/2 year sentence for rape.
However, the confessions of the four were inconsistent with each other and with the evidence at the crime scene, and no DNA or other physical evidence connected them to the death of Michelle Moore-Bosko.
DNA evidence implicated a fifth suspect, Omar Ballard, who at first told police he acted alone but said the others were involved just before he was to be sentenced.
Thirty FBI agents and at least three former state attorneys general contended that the confessions were unreliable and urged Kaine to pardon the four suspects.
In a statement explaining his decision, Kaine commuted the sentence of the three men still in prison to time served but did not exonerate them.
“[W]hile many aspects of the Petitioners’ confessions are problematic, the cumulative power of all these statements taken together – especially when coupled with other evidence such as Williams’ asserted obsession with the victim and Tice and Dick’s references to committing the crime with a black male – is difficult to completely ignore,” Kaine said.
On the other hand, “The Petitioners have demonstrated, through the accumulation of all the evidence now known, that any involvement in crime was of a significantly lesser magnitude than that of the primary perpetrator, Omar Ballard,” Kaine concluded.
By Alan Cooper