Overturned Conviction Upheld in False Confession Case

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April 21, 2011

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.


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