Monday, April 02, 2007

Nifonged in Norfolk

From the Norfolk Four website :
A Miscarriage of Justice

Four innocent men, Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Derek Tice, and Eric Wilson, all veterans of the U.S. Navy, were convicted of crimes they did not commit. Eric has been released from prison, but Danial, Joe, and Derek remain in Virginia prisons serving double-life sentences for a rape and murder committed by another man, Omar Ballard. An objective, comprehensive review of this case by the nation’s leading experts in the fields of forensic pathology, forensic DNA analysis, crime scene reconstruction, and false confessions leaves no doubt that Danial, Joe, Derek, and Eric were wrongly accused, falsely confessed, and are all innocent. In Virginia and around the nation, innocent people are being freed in cases where the exonerating physical evidence is much less compelling than here. Justice for these innocent young men is long overdue.

Click Here To View a Documentary Film About This Injustice.

Proof of Innocence

The real murderer, Omar Ballard, is also serving—among other sentences—a double-life sentence for this crime. Ballard has admitted repeatedly, and confirms to this day (including in sworn testimony to a Virginia court), that he committed this crime alone. The physical evidence conclusively establishes Ballard’s guilt. Exacting DNA testing conducted by the Commonwealth has proven beyond doubt that Ballard—and only Ballard—was the source of semen and blood recovered from the crime scene. And there was no DNA or other physical evidence whatsoever linking the sailors or anyone other than Ballard to this crime. Nevertheless, four innocent men were convicted based on false confessions extracted by a detective who has a documented history of eliciting false confessions.
The Norfolk Four website asks for help with the clemency campaign on behalf of the Nifonged sailors. Those interested in participating by petitioning Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine are encouraged to use the following sample letter as a guide:

Governor Timothy M. Kaine
Patrick Henry Building, Third Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

Dear Governor Kaine:

I am writing to support the Clemency Petition of Joseph Jesse Dick, Jr., Derek Elliot Tice, and Danial J. Williams. These men are innocent, and they should be returned to their families.

These three innocent men were wrongfully convicted in a tragic miscarriage of justice. They have now spent over seven years in jail for a crime they did not commit. Omar Ballard has confessed to the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko and continues to insist that he committed this crime alone. DNA testing has proved that his statements are true – Mr. Ballard, and only, Mr. Ballard – was the source of the semen and blood recovered from the crime scene and autopsy. There was no physical evidence whatsoever linking anyone other than Mr. Ballard to this crime.

Joe, Derek, and Danial, are all veterans of the United States Navy with no prior criminal records. They are upstanding young men who have lived their lives helping others. Each of them protected our country by serving in the armed forces. There is absolutely nothing in their character or background to suggest that they would commit such a horrible crime. All that links Joe, Derek, and Danial to this crime is a series of coerced and demonstrably false confessions. These confessions resulted from improper interrogation tactics employed by Detective Robert Glen Ford, the lead investigator in this case, who has a history of eliciting false confessions.

Governor Kaine, please do what is right, do what is just, do what is long overdue. Release these men from prison. They are innocent and belong at home with their families.

Additionally, the Norfolk Four offers the following suggestions for those willing to participate in the letter writing campaign:
Keep your letter short, no more than two or three pages, if it is handwritten, and no more than one page if it is typewritten.

Letters can be handwritten or typed, whichever is easiest for you. You don’t have to impress the Governor with your computer skills and professionalism. He needs to know that you are sincere and that you care about the Norfolk Four, their families, and their freedom. Handwritten letters are fine.

Use your own words as much as possible – the writing guide and sample letter are only meant to help you organize your thoughts.
To participate in the clemency campaign today, use this correspondence form to send your letter via email to Governor Kaine: correspondence form.

Those sending email are encouraged to follow up by also ending their letter by regular mail to Governor Kaine at the following address:

Governor Timothy M. Kaine
Patrick Henry Building, Third Floor
1111 East Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

For additional information on this egregious miscarriage of justice, please visit the Norfolk Four website to view legal documents, press kits, and letters written by several former prosecutors and Judges, several trial jurors, and others on behalf of the Nifonged in Norfolk Four.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a Virginian, let me offer some advice to those who will write to Gov. Kaine. Do not make the argument that doing something about this case is right or principled. Focus on it being something that will make him more popular -- something that will reflect well on him.

Gov. Kaine spent his campaign talking about despite believing that abortion and capital punishment are both wrong, if elected he would do nothing about either. When it comes to popularity versus principle he'll choose popularity. Keep that in mind as you write.

And do write. He's more likely to act on the quantity, not the quality, of letters.