Interview Michael Fasanaro Jr.

Michael Fasanaro Jr.

A veteran Navy lawyer, he represented Joe Dick Jr., one of the Norfolk Four. This is the edited transcript of an interview conducted on March 24, 2010.

After all the time that has passed, do you have any idea what actually happened in Norfolk in July 1997?

Only what Joe has told me and what I've read in the other people's statements.

Which is?

That an attack took place on Miss [Michelle] Bosko's apartment and that she was raped and murdered.

Is that the only thing Joe told you?

Well, Joe told me a lot of things. His story altered from time to time as he added people. But basically he told me that they were at Mr. [Danial] Williams' apartment across the way, same complex, and Mr. Williams apparently had interest in the young lady, Miss Bosko. Had seen her, liked her. They had discussions concerning her undergarments and what color she might be wearing and that they decided to go over there.

“I operated based upon the facts that I had, the client I had. I can't say, 'Well, 10 years from now, this is all going to change.' By that time, the guy is dead.”

Joe has told me that he certainly didn't know they were going over there to commit any sort of crime. She would not let them in at first. They went down to the parking lot and smoked a cigarette, and a second. During the time they were down there, a black gentleman came along and joined the group, and they went back up, and he was never quite 100 percent certain as to how they got in, whether the door was jimmied, somebody put their hand over the peephole so that she couldn't see who was out there. Williams, apparently who knew her, at least kept talking, and they forced their way into the apartment.

But that certainly was not what Joe told you the first time he met you.

No. The first time he met me he told me that he wasn't involved and that he was onboard the ship.

And later? What was version number two?

Well, version number two was continually that he was onboard the ship after I had contacted members of his command to verify that he was not onboard the ship.

And of course you have to understand he already made a confession to the police before I became involved in the case. So version number two was that he and Williams were involved in this, and it began to grow from there.

Which version did you believe?

I believed that Joe was involved. I was never quite clear in my own mind how many people were fully involved. Joe did not name all of the people. I can't remember at this point -- it's 12 years ago now -- who it was who named the other two people. I think maybe [Derek] Tice had named a couple of other people who became involved and were subsequently apprehended. Joe didn't know everybody by his first name. He had met these people at the Fifth National Banque. It was a country bar on Little Creek Road, and he had been there with Williams and other people, and he'd met some of the others, but he didn't really know them well.

In fact, at one point during the course of the investigation, all he knew was that the gentleman was onboard an aircraft carrier. And they obtained the annual book photographs of everybody onboard the carriers and showed it to him, and he was able to pick out somebody, the person that he thought was with them that night.

But weren't you at least surprised about the blossoming stories?

Sure. Of course I was surprised about the blossoming stories. I queried Joe on a number of occasions as to, you know, "What is the truth here?" At times he would indicate that he didn't really want to implicate anybody else in it because he was himself scared of implicating anybody. Joe was not a leader of this group. Joe was by far a follower, if you would -- a hanger-on, a follower. I can't imagine him ever doing anything like this on his own, on his own hook.

What did you believe?

I believe a murder had been committed. I believe that as we proceeded into the case, after the preliminary hearing in General District Court, Joe was facing the death penalty. The commonwealth approached me and asked me whether or not he might be interested in testifying on behalf of the commonwealth. In return they would take the death penalty off the table. I approached Mr. Dick about it; I approached his parents about it. Based upon the evidence, based upon the personality of the client that I had, I considered that if we went to trial, the death penalty was a legitimate possibility. As a result of that, Mr. Dick testified at the preliminary hearing on behalf of the commonwealth.

You thought he was guilty of something?

At that point I certainly thought he was guilty. The client told me he was guilty. He had confessed to the police, and then he told me he was involved. He even wrote a letter concerning his involvement in this thing. Yes, he was involved. He told me he was involved. I had many meetings with him in private, and Joe was honest of his eventual involvement in the case, yes.

Except that of course he wasn't honest, because he told you one thing, and then he told you another thing.

Oh, I have to tell you that as a criminal defense attorney, that is absolutely not unusual. That is more the norm than unusual. Defendants change their story quite often.

How did he become the prosecution witness?

As I said to you just a moment ago, they approached me, and I approached Mr. Dick. This was after Williams' DNA didn't show up as positive. They approached me and talked to Mr. Dick, and he indicated after talking with the family that that was the best thing to do. That way the death penalty was no longer a possibility. So he became a prosecution witness at that time.

And what was his obligation, as far as you understood?

Was to testify truthfully on behalf of the commonwealth.

Did they believe him?

I don't know who "they" are.

The prosecution, when he came every time with another story? I counted seven stories.

They did a polygraph on him at one time, and I certainly was aware of the fact that he was changing his story and adding on and subtracting, as the case may be. As I said, that was never unusual. Not a great surprise to me.

You said at the beginning that you believed what the client told you. But basically you believed the last version, right?

I believed it when he said he was involved in the rape and the murder. As to who else was there and specifically what the other people all did, I wasn't quite sure, because he himself was not sure. However, at some point he became more certain of the fact, for example, that [Eric] Wilson was not involved in the murder and that he had left prior to the murder. And if I'm not mistaken, he testified at Wilson's trial to that effect, that Wilson was there for the rape but was not there for the murder, and in fact the jury found him not guilty of the murder. So I was convinced in my mind that that's what occurred, yes.

According to Joe, he says the prosecution came to him -- I don't know if it's through you or not through you -- and said, "We need names," at which point he gave them George Clark, which he said just came from anything.

Oh, I don't believe that to be true at all. He gave me names, and I in turn gave them to the commonwealth attorney.

But according to him, he just made up names.

No, that was never -- he's never indicated that to me.

That what?

How could that be so if he was in fact picking pictures out of, for example, as I told you before, he picked the photograph out of a yearbook from one of the carriers and -- no, I don't believe that, and he never indicated that was so. He was reluctant in bringing more people into the allegations.

Then when I read his testimony, I think it's in Wilson's trial, he testifies, and the lawyer asks him, "Are you an honest man?," and he says, "No." "Did you lie?" "Yes." So obviously, his stories, even for him, weren't true.

I don't disagree with that. But the bottom line was he had told me that he was implicated in the rape and the murder of Michelle Bosko. At that juncture, and having made a confession -- he already had made his confession -- the decisions had to be made as to whether to proceed and fight a trial where he had confessed. And he was a young man who was a follower, a young man who was not going to make a very strong witness in his own behalf. That was my belief. And I didn't recommend against his continuing on and cooperating with the authorities. I thought it was in his best interest.

To continue?

To cooperate. Of course.

Even though he kept changing the stories?

Well, if they were willing to accept his changes of the stories and it was going to benefit Mr. Dick, then by all means continue, but try and tell the truth. And I asked him,we were at the Police Operations Center one day, and I talked to him in private, and I said, "What are you doing?" He said, "I'm scared; I'm nervous." I said: "Well, this is going to help you, so tell the truth. The truth is not going to hurt anybody except the guy who's going to get caught because of this. If you're honest about it, you're going to be believed. If you're not honest, you're not going to be believed."

But he was actually believed at the end only because [Omar] Ballard came out.

Well, the police did not believe him about the black person. In front of me, he told the authorities at the Police Operations Center, when we went for one of the interviews, that a black gentleman whose name he did not know, but somebody who he had seen in the neighborhood, had joined the crowd after they didn't go in the first time. They did not believe him about that. They did not accept that.

[Editors' Note: The police notes from those interviews and Joe Dick's recorded statements to the police do not mention a black man, although at trial Dick did testify that a black man was at the crime scene.]

But they accepted everything else?

Well, I can't answer for them. They knew that Mr. Dick was going to be a difficult witness and he was going to be easily cross-examined. I think they felt that way. I don't think that the commonwealth attorneys felt that he would be believed in everything he said because he'd already made inconsistent statements, so they knew they were going to be faced with that at trial.

And you knew it, too?

Of course. If he went to trial, he'd be faced with the inconsistent statements that he's made himself, obviously.

What did you think it was going to do? You thought it would help him get a better deal? I mean, what was the point?

The point was to get the best opportunity for him to get the charge reduced to the best way we can. He was charged with capital murder and rape. Capital murder meant the death penalty. I was convinced in my mind and the family was convinced in their minds and Joseph was convinced in his mind that if he went to court and faced a jury or faced a judge by pleading guilty, he stood a legitimate chance of getting the death penalty, so I was concerned deeply about that. Initially, they removed the death penalty from the table. They said it would be capital life; that is, no death, but life without parole. Then we talked them down to first-degree murder, which means he was eligible for parole at some point.

Again, maybe I said it before, but when I read Joe's testimony, I had to take notes and review the notes. Every statement was different.

I haven't read Joe's testimony in the Wilson case. I had no reason to.

It's the same kind of story: He did this; he did that; George Clark came; one grabbed one arm; one grabbed one leg. ... He said himself: "I don't remember. And I didn't remember then what I said."

That's right. I don't think he fully remembered. I'm not surprised at that. It's not an unusual circumstance when you're in the courtroom that people don't remember everything. People make things up on the witness stand at times. And I knew that Joe was going to be a terrible witness in the courtroom. I was sure of it. And that was one of the reasons I urged him to continue to cooperate, because it was going to help him in any way.

But did you realize he was making up stuff.

I couldn't tell you what was made up because I wasn't there. I had to rely on my client.

But if you relied on your client and he changed his story --

And I matched the client's testimony with talking, the other statements I had received from other attorneys [who] had given me copies of the clients' statements. We had traded statements, so to speak, so I had a pretty good inkling of what the other people were saying, and there was a lot of similarities.

Basically, you believe that the crime --

I believe the crime was committed. I believe Mr. Dick was involved in the rape and the murder of Michelle Bosko. With that being said, and based upon my experience, my dealing with this client, this personality, the manner in which he conducted himself at interviews with me -- and I met with the man probably 50, 55 times -- I was convinced this was the best way to go in this trial. It was in his best interest to try and cooperate the best he could to take the death penalty off the case, because I was convinced, with the brutality of this murder, a jury might very well have given the death penalty.

I don't doubt it, and I don't doubt that you might have saved him from death. I understand the laws in Virginia are very difficult. What I don't understand when I read it is why did the prosecution believe him and why did his lawyer believe him.

Well, I don't know what the prosecution believed. They must have believed enough because they put him on the witness stand on a number of occasions. The jury must have believed him in Wilson's case, because they found Wilson not guilty of the murder. So you know what other people believe or don't believe, and I know I was criticized by some attorneys because of Mr. Dick -- I had him enter his pleas of guilty after Ballard came forward. But that was after talking over with Joe, and he had already testified umpteen times for the commonwealth, and he continued on with his agreement, and he continued even after I no longer represented him.

When Tice was tried the second time, Joe was already in the penitentiary. I was not involved in that case at all, in that aspect at all. And after it was all over, Mr. Dick wrote me a letter saying he wanted me to see about getting another reduction in his sentence because he had been approached by both the commonwealth and by the defense in Tice's retrial to see if he would testify for the commonwealth, and the defense wanted him to testify for the defense. Mr. Dick, Joe, informed me that he had elected to testify for the commonwealth because that's what really happened. So he went ahead and testified for the commonwealth, and then he wrote me -- I knew nothing about this -- and he wrote me and said could I go back to the judge and see if we could get his sentence reduced. But he did all of that on his own.

I wouldn't be surprised. Basically what he said to me was, "At the end I had no idea if I did it, what I did, what I said, what I didn't say."

You're right. And I had him psychiatrically evaluated. You're probably aware of that.

No.

Joe was found to be competent to stand trial and found to be sane. We'd had the preliminary hearing. I'd queried Detective [Brian] Wray, I believe it was, who testified on behalf of the commonwealth as to Joe's statement. Facing that aspect of it, I took the route that I knew I had to go.

Is there any way you could believe Joe to be innocent?

At the time I had no reason to believe that he was innocent. That's correct. I had reason to believe that he was dragged into something that in a million years he never would have done on his own. He wanted to be a part of a group. I used to ask him, why did he go to the Banque? Because I wanted to hang out with a group of guys; I wanted to hang out with the guys.

I also got a feeling when I had talked to the members of his command, his petty officer, Ziegler, who had since said he's never spoken to me, but I know that I spoke with him on the phone, of course.

[Editors' Note: Dick's supervisor, 1st Class Petty Officer Michael Ziegler, said under oath in a 2006 hearing for Derek Tice that he never had any communication with any police, prosecutors, or attorneys involved in this case, including Michael Fasanaro.]

And the warrant officer was the boss, and there was a chief whose name slips my mind at this time. They were on a conference call, and I spoke to all of them. And after they had found some things on Joe's computer, which he was not supposed to be using for personal items, they felt that they were seriously concerned about Mr. Dick.

So I've never hesitated. I've never backed down on my position. I'm not a man that is so prideful that I wouldn't admit my mistakes. When you're in this business, and you try as many cases as I've tried, of course there are mistakes made. I've made mistakes. Other people make mistakes. Judges make mistakes. I thought the sentence Judge [Charles] Poston gave in this case was totally out of line, quite frankly. I was extremely disappointed in the sentence that he gave. I felt that the sentence should have been much, much lighter, should have been within the guidelines. Joe had stuck his neck out on a line for the commonwealth, had testified for them, and I think he should have been rewarded significantly. And I thought the letters presented in Joe's behalf by his family who had gathered all sorts of letters which we presented to Judge Poston, his mother's testimony was wonderful, but Judge Poston just, you know, he wouldn't bend from two life terms.

Is it possible that Judge Poston felt that he was lying and that was the reason for the sentence?

I can't speak for Judge Poston. I don't know what he was thinking. I have no idea. I don't know how he felt. Obviously anybody who had seen Michelle Bosko's pictures was impressed, if you will, or depressed, as you want to put it. The photographs of this young lady, in my opinion, when shown around a courthouse to a jury were brutal, just brutal.

Of course. But the question was who did it.

I don't know what Judge Poston was thinking. I have no way of knowing that. He praised me for my argument after the sentencing, but I was very disappointed in his sentence.

What Joe said to me is that "My lawyer didn't believe me from day one."

Well, that's not true. I make no decision on whether I believe a client or not, particularly in a case of this magnitude, until I met with the client a number of times, three, four times, unless the client comes right out and says, "I did it," and [that] type of thing. But that's pretty rare, too. Joe and I -- as I said, I met with him probably 50 times. I met with Joe weekly, maybe twice a week at the start so I'd get to know him, so I'd get a feel for him. Every time he asked me to call somebody, to try and reach them on the ship, I wrote the letters, spoke to the people on the ship. I reported back to Joe what the people on the ship had said. And he said, oh, maybe he was mistaken at the date that he was on duty. No, I didn't disbelieve, I didn't believe anything at the time that we met other than that he was Joseph Dick. And he was young and immature and impressionable, and I don't make those types of decisions. I will tell you this: His father was convinced he was guilty the first time I met his father.

His father completely denies that, of course.

Well, that's up to his father to make that statement one way or the other. But they sat in my office, his mother and father sat in my office, and his father was quite sure that he was involved in this mess.

They said to us it was the most shocking --

Well, I'm sure they were shocked. Of course they were shocked. Obviously any parent would be shocked. Joe was not that type of person. That's what I said to you on a number of occasions now. But he got led into this, and for whatever reasons he got involved.

And you called them or wrote them a letter and said, "Your son is guilty"?

Well, I would never have written a letter saying, "Your son is guilty." I would have written a letter that probably said, "In my opinion, based upon the evidence of the case, based upon the statement made by Joe, it is my opinion that he's going to be found guilty of capital murder if we proceed in that direction." I probably wrote something along those lines. I wouldn't be surprised of that, sure.

Asking them to help? I mean, what was the point?

I may have asked them to help; I don't remember that specifically. That's possible.

But again, if I ask you today, what was the truth of Joe, you say he was involved. But was he involved with --

Look, I can tell you this. I've done 250, 300 murder cases; probably 25, maybe 28 capital murders -- 4,000, 5,000, 6,000 cases -- and there's very few times that I can tell you what is the exact truth as to what happened, because defendants, witnesses, begin to lose perspective. They can't remember certain facts; they don't remember what they've said the day before.

Even if it's the truth?

Yeah, even if it's the truth, because if it's such an eventful incident and if they're involved in something, psychiatrists have told me they try to block that out. So the psychiatrists have told me time and time again [that] the fact that they changed their testimony is not surprising whatsoever. And they go from not guilty to guilty to not guilty. That's not surprising. I've seen that time and time and time again.

How could the prosecution therefore even rely on him?

I can't answer for the prosecution. I have no way of knowing. That's their business, not mine. But he had to be believed, apparently, on the witness stand, because he testified in the Tice case, and he was found guilty.

I don't know. Do you think it's his testimony, or do you think it's Tice's confession?

I don't know. I wasn't on the jury. I don't know. And I didn't go to court to watch it. I never go to court to watch my clients testify, because at some point it's inevitable that their eyes might meet mine, and it might be some sort of indication that I'm trying to persuade them to say something. He's looking at me for advice, and I never want that to happen, so I stay away from the courtroom. So I don't know how he did in court. And how the commonwealth, why they decided to use him, that's their business. But it helped Joe get down from capital to capital life to first degree. So it was going in the right direction. And now he's out.

When I was reading over Joe's statement, there was one thing he said which made me laugh. He said Michelle bit his penis. Then sometime later he said no, he made a mistake: It wasn't his penis; it was Dan's penis. And I thought, this guy doesn't know what he's saying.

Well, my opinion as to the rape, why there was no DNA, I've always thought that Joe never penetrated the girl. I thought he attempted to or maybe made it look like it because he was part of this group. But my opinion was he never actually penetrated Michelle Bosko.

This would have made sense if it was just Dan [Williams] and him. But it doesn't make sense anymore if it's Eric [Wilson] and [Derek] Tice, because there was no DNA of anybody.

Well, I can't answer to what everybody did. I just have no way of knowing that. I don't know what the DNA would have shown today with the new, improved methodologies. In my opinion, Joe -- I had some conversations with the other attorneys -- but my concern was Joe, and my own opinion was, and every time I tweaked him on that, talking about, "Joe, did you really penetrate this girl?," and at some point he'd say, "Oh, yes" -- you know, manly -- and at other points he'd say, "I'm really not sure." And I never thought he had. I just thought he had gone through the motions, in my opinion. Just an opinion -- it didn't affect the case in any way. But that was just my thought of Joe.

I liked Joe. We became friendly. I always try and find a common area of interest with the clients, particularly in this type of cases, big cases. And he was a big pro football fan, as I am. So we used to get into conversations like that, just to make him at ease. It's much easier to talk to a person who is at ease with you, obviously. So I never really thought Joe penetrated this woman. I really never did.

Did you feel bad that all that effort came to naught when it came time to sentencing?

Well, he didn't get the death penalty. He didn't get life without parole.

[Editors' Note: Joe Dick Jr. was given two life sentences. The program incorrectly stated that he was sentenced to life without parole.]

So I was disappointed, yes -- not with the effort and all the time I'd spent. In this business you get disappointed time and time again as a criminal defense attorney. You have to understand that it's not easy to win cases most times. I was disappointed that day. And a week or so later I wrote Judge Poston asking him to reconsider. I pointed out a number of things which I felt were appropriate in the case, emphasizing his cooperation with the authorities.

And I might say this. I was informed by the commonwealth attorney, one of the two prosecutors, that they were not going to seek life in prison prior to sentencing. And I was more than a little upset, and if you've ever read the transcript you will have noticed that. And if you had seen me you would have really noticed it, because I went to the prosecutor and pointed my finger at them about having lied and that I was the type of attorney that when I said something, I felt I was going to be believed, and if I said I'd do something, that's the way it would be, and I had expected the other people to perform the same way. So I don't trust those people, frankly.

What did he say?

They said they were not going to seek life in prison when we went in front of Judge Poston, but they did.

What did they say when you came to them?

They didn't say anything. They couldn't say anything. They knew they couldn't say anything to me to make it better.

Because it was done?

It was done. So I was furious. It's on the record. I said right to the judge, right there in the courtroom in front of everybody to hear, how I thought about the prosecution -- what I thought about them at that time. I didn't mince words, not at all.

If I were to ask most people around here what they think, do most people think they were guilty?

I don't know. Anybody who saw, who was involved in the case at the time probably thought they were guilty. The years have gone by, and they've read a lot of things in the newspapers and on the Internet. And [John] Grisham, of course, I don't know if he still is making a movie. I talked to the attorneys in my office, attorneys who are close friends of mine at the time who were not involved in the case, picking brains. You know, you talk to people that you work with. I had no hesitation in my mind in doing what I did. It was not one of these "Should I, or shouldn't I?"

I was convinced I was doing the right thing. I still am. I'm sitting here today, I know I did the right thing. I don't have any doubt. I am totally comfortable that Joe got a reduction in his sentence. I don't know if you know this. I was asked to go to Richmond, [Va.,] to speak to the governor's attorneys, which I did, about a year or so ago. Maybe it was January or so of last year.

What did you say?

I told them that I thought Joe Dick deserved some sort of pardon, reduction of the sentence.

Even though he was guilty?

Absolutely. I thought his sentence should be reduced.

Even though he was guilty?

Even though he was guilty, I thought his sentence should be reduced -- not pardoned in the sense that it didn't happen, but I thought that Joe should not have received two life sentences. I argued very vehemently for that. And I said there's got to be a way for the governor to come up with something here to reduce the sentences. I don't know about the other people -- that's your decision -- but on Joe Dick, I argued very strenuously that that sentence should be reduced.

There's nothing in the world that would make you believe that your client is innocent?

You say nothing in the world. How can I say that? Nothing in the world. Nothing that I have seen or heard would make me feel that way. And don't forget, juries heard evidence. There were a number of juries heard in this case, and don't forget that Chief Judge [Everett A.] Martin heard the black gentleman's -- name slips my mind --

Ballard.

Yeah, Ballard's testimony in one of those cases that came up on a habeas, and Judge Martin said that he wouldn't believe that guy, found him to be incredible.

And Joe credible?

I don't think Judge Martin ever heard from Joe, to my knowledge.

Do you remember the first meeting with Joe and Detective [Glenn] Ford with the jail letters? I'm wondering if that's when you became convinced of Joe's guilt.

No, I was already convinced of Joe's guilt. We wouldn't have been at the POC [Police Operations Center] if I wasn't convinced of his guilt. And I can't specifically say sitting here right now that I honestly remember everything that took place. It's just impossible for me to tell you that. I'd be lying if I did. But I can say this: I would not have been there if I wasn't already convinced. So that might have been another nail in the coffin, so to speak, but I was convinced.

Do you have any idea when it happened, when you became convinced?

When I made that final determination? Probably after the preliminary hearing.

[Editors' Note: Joe Dick Jr.'s preliminary hearing was held Feb. 13, 1998; he was interrogated and arrested on Jan. 12, 1998.]

Probably after the preliminary hearing, when we questioned Brian Wray and then talking to Joe again, and in my mind, I felt one, he was guilty; two, if I let it go to a Norfolk jury and a case of this nature, or any jury, I felt sincerely that the death penalty was more than likely a possibility.

At that point, what was he admitting to?

Being involved in the rape and murder of Michelle Bosko.

With Dan [Williams] only at that point?

I can't honestly tell you that. I can't tell you that. You know, I can't sit here and tell you when he added the other people on. It's 12 years, and honestly, I can't remember all that.

What about the plea once Ballard was in the picture. Those two happened pretty close together, right?

Sure. And I was criticized for letting Joe go through with the plea. I remember one of the attorneys, Wilson's attorney -- and I'm not going to name him --

[Greg] McCormack.

McCormack -- you named him -- made some pretty disparaging remarks, but that's his business. He has his right to his opinion. I stood by my position. I had discussed it with my client. He wanted to go forward. He considered it to be the best thing for him to do. We did it. Joe had already testified at preliminary hearings. Joe had already under oath testified with regard to his involvement in this case.

You know Joe better than I, but by now I know him a little. What does his word mean?

Each person will have their own opinion. I can't tell you what each person considers. Certainly a person's credibility is attacked any time you change your story. But you know, there's an instruction that is given in the courts in criminal cases dealing with the credibility of a witness, and the jury is instructed that you can believe some of the testimony, all of his testimony or none of his testimony. So you can pick out portions that you believe; you can eliminate other portions that you don't believe. So that's where you stand. It's a decision that each individual juror would have had to make.

Why did you let Joe talk to Detective Ford without you?

Talk to Ford without me? I'm not so sure when that occurred. It certainly occurred after I was no longer involved; I know that. They went up to the penitentiary to speak to him.

He said you approved, and he talked to Ford.

Perhaps I let them talk to Ford prior to his testifying. And it wasn't Ford; it was with the commonwealth prior to his testifying in I guess it was Tice's trial, or whichever trial it was. I didn't need to be there. Joe was already committed. And again, my position in these things is that my presence could hinder Joe more than help him. It's up to him. Once the decision is made that you're going to cooperate, Mr. Dick, then you, Mr. Dick, have got to continue to sell yourself. If I'm there and you're looking to me to give you answers with a nod of my head or shake of my head or something, that destroys everything. You've agreed this is what you want to do, go do it.

So when Ballard showed up, you still didn't believe in any way Joe had a triable case?

No. In fact, that verified Joe's statement that a black man had appeared in the parking lot, somebody that he knew just from facially, but he didn't know his name. And subsequently, Joe, when he was shown a picture, he said, "Yeah, that's the guy." And it was Ballard. It substantiated what Joe had previously said.

But you know a lot of people in the neighborhood knew that there was a black rapist. He knew Michelle and raped another woman 10 days after the murder. So it was no secret in the neighborhood that a black man is involved somehow.

I can't deny that, but that doesn't mean that seven people didn't rape another person, so the fact that there were other rapes -- I've represented myself people who were involved in rapes in that same area at the same time.

How could the prosecution be happy for six months with one guy, Danial Williams, thinking that they solved the case? If they read the paper, they would have realized that someone is still raping women.

I can't answer for the commonwealth. How could I answer for what their thinking was at the time? Williams confessed; they had their rapist. Then the DNA came back; it wasn't Williams, no DNA. So then they started to come around and said: "What do we do next? Let's talk to him. Let's go around and look for other people."

And leave this one in prison?

Well, I don't know what their conversations were with Williams. I don't know what his attorney spoke to them about. I don't know what Williams' attorney decided to do. I don't know their conversations. I have never spoken to any of the other co-defendants, so I can't answer for them.

Is there anything else?

No, I've said it all. I'm happy to answer any questions. I don't duck a one.

Would you understand if Joe is angry?

His prerogative. If he wants to be angry, he can be. You know, I'm the type of person, quite frankly, if I'm angry at somebody today, I'll probably forget it tomorrow. If Joe wants to be angry at me, that's his prerogative. I'm sorry he feels that way. I tried my very best, professionally and personally. I kept him 100 percent informed. I visited with him, as I said, time and time again. Kept his parents totally informed.

You know, you're looking at a case in 2010 that took place 12, 13 years ago. So what's come out since is one thing, and I'm still not sure that what's come out has really acquitted anybody of this. What happened in 1997 and 1998 is where I was. We can't go back 12 years and say, "You should have done this." These are the facts I had. I operated based upon the facts that I had, the client that I had; that's what I have to go on. I can't say, "Well, 10 years from now, this is all going to change." By that time, the guy is dead.

But it didn't change for you?

No. What's changed? No, the governor had a question in his mind, so he gave them a conditional pardon. That's his job as a governor, which is along the lines of what I suggested from the standpoint of giving them, giving my client, however it can be done, you should reduce Mr. Dick's sentence. He should not have gotten more than those eight years for the rape. I argued vehemently with Judge Poston, saying a jury has made a decision in Wilson's case that eight years is an appropriate sentence for the rape charge. That's a jury of his peers.

I think that Joe Dick should get no more than the eight years. And don't forget, he's the guy who testified in not only Mr. Wilson's case but against co-defendants. So I asked Judge Poston specifically for the eight years and no more than the eight years in the rape and a less than life sentence in the murder.

You didn't believe he raped her. Did you believe he killed her?

I believe he was involved. You know, did he stab her? He said he did. Said it numerous times. How many times he stabbed her? I doubt anybody could tell you how many times each one stabbed this poor girl, because you put it out of your mind. And the frenzy had to be unbelievable. Just close your eyes and picture a young lady being held down by a number of people, and they're taking turns. I think it's the most grotesque thing you'd ever want to hear. And her husband at sea -- the whole thing. And we're living in Norfolk, Va., talking about Navy USA. And those things had to be taken carefully into consideration. You can't disregard evidence like that.

So I don't know exactly what Joe did. I don't think Joe knows today what he did, quite frankly. And I'm happy for Joe that he's out. I couldn't be happier. I think he deserves to be out. Whether he likes me or not, Joe will have to decide that. Whether he was involved, Joe will have to live with that the rest of his life.

I know you've had hundreds of trials, but is this an unusual case?

Absolutely. First of all, any capital murder has got to be taken and placed in a little different category than the guy who commits burglary or a larceny. The number of co-defendants also complicates any case that you have co-defendants. Sure, it was an unusual case. So it's unusual. How many times do you get a capital murder with seven people, eight people are involved in it? You don't get that very often.

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posted november 9, 2010

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