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Constitutional Violation Ruling Raises More Questions About Reliability of Norfolk 4 Convictions December 27, 2006

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

A Norfolk, Va. Circuit Court Judge last month overturned the conviction of a former Navy man, one of the Norfolk 4, who was sentenced to life for a crime he did not commit. Following is a statement from attorneys (Hogan & Hartson, Holland & Knight and Skadden Arps) who represent the Norfolk 4. For additional background on this case of innocence, please visit www.norfolk4.com.

“We are extremely pleased with the ruling from Judge Everett A. Martin which overturned the conviction of Derek Tice, one of three former Navy men who were sentenced to life in prison for a crime they did not commit. Rarely does a court in Virginia overturn a murder conviction, but did so today because of egregious constitutional violations. At the center of the court’s reasoning was its conclusion that the police violated the well-established rule that once a suspect has invoked his right to remain silent, the police must stop questioning. For each of the Navy men, that overly aggressive police questioning led to unreliable confessions insufficient to hold any of these innocent sailors in prison.

Three innocent men remain in prison despite overwhelming evidence of their innocence and it is time for Governor Tim Kaine to right this wrong by granting clemency to the Norfolk 4.

Today’s ruling underscores that the Navy men’s unreliable confessions were not sufficient evidence against them to hold them in prison for life. ‘There was no fingerprint, DNA, or other scientific evidence against [Tice], no independent eyewitnesses implicated him; no physical evidence implicated him,’ the judge explained. The judge concluded it was likely the jury would have acquitted Tice had the confession not been part of the trial evidence.

As we have stated, the police failed to honor clearly established rules of law during the interrogation process. Detective R. Glen Ford, who led the interrogation, had a history of obtaining false confessions from other innocent men in Virginia. Detective Ford used forceful, intimidating tactics and threatened the Norfolk 4 with the death penalty until they falsely confessed.

An objective, comprehensive review by leading experts in forensic pathology, crime scene reconstruction, and false confessions has left no doubt that Derek Tice, Joseph Dick, Danial Williams and Eric Wilson are innocent and we call on Governor Kaine to correct this egregious injustice.”



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