The Confessions(2:05) Why would four innocent men confess to a brutal crime they didn't commit?

Overturned Conviction Upheld in False Confession Case

by

Derek Tice maintains that, although he admitted to the 1997 rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko, he is innocent of the crime and his confession was coerced. And now a federal court has agreed that Tice’s confession was legally problematic.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a unanimous decision, upheld an earlier ruling that overturned Tice’s conviction. The Virginian-Pilot reports that the panel found “that Tice’s lawyers, while generally very good, failed to request to have a key piece of evidence — Tice’s confession — thrown out of court.” The ruling was in response to the Virginia attorney general’s appeal of the September 2009 decision.

Tice’s case was highlighted in our November 2010 film The Confessions, an investigation into why four men confessed to Moore-Bosko’s rape and murder, even though they didn’t commit the crime. Tice is the only one of the “Norfolk Four” — the others are Joe Dick Jr., Danial Williams and Eric Wilson — whose conviction has been overturned.

Tice describes his interrogation in the above excerpt from the film: His request for a lawyer was ignored and after 11 hours of questioning, he says he “broke and gave [the interrogator] what he wanted to hear.” Tice was convicted in 2000.

In the wake of Tuesday’s ruling, Virginia still has the option of appealing to the Supreme Court. Barring that, the commonwealth’s attorney could retry Tice without the confession as evidence. A spokesman for the state’s Office of the Attorney General told The Virginian-Pilot that the office “is reviewing the decision and its future options.”

For information on the legal twists and turns of the case, see our in-depth timeline, and read more about why someone might confess to a crime they didn’t commit from expert Richard Leo.

blog comments powered by Disqus

In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS
Frontline Journalism Fund

Supporting Investigative Reporting

Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Major funding for FRONTLINE is provided by The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Park Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation.PBSPark FoundationMacArthur FoundationwyncoteCPB

FRONTLINE   Watch FRONTLINE   About FRONTLINE   Contact FRONTLINE
Privacy Policy   Journalistic Guidelines   PBS Privacy Policy   PBS Terms of Use   Corporate Sponsorship
FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of WGBH Educational Foundation.
Web Site Copyright ©1995-2014 WGBH Educational Foundation
PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.