The Confessions: One of the “Norfolk Four” Cleared of Rape/Murder Charges


Photo: Derek Tice's mugshot

August 4, 2011

Derek Tice, who was convicted of the 1997 rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko, is officially a free man after Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Charles Poston dropped two felony charges against him as recommended by special prosecutor D.J. Hansen, who originally tried the case. Tice claims he was convicted based on a confession coerced by then-Norfolk, Va. detective Robert Glenn Ford, who is now in jail on charges unrelated to the Norfolk Four case. In April, a U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that Tice’s confession — the only evidence linking him to the crime — should have been thrown out of court. The state had until late August to re-file charges against him.

Tice’s complicated road to exoneration was profiled in our November 2010 film The Confessions, which investigated the problematic way Tice’s case — and the cases of three other men, a group known as the “Norfolk Four” — were handled by Virginia’s justice system. All four Navy men underwent long interrogations before breaking under pressure, admitting they took part in Moore-Bosko’s violent death. It wasn’t until 1999, after the Norfolk Four were incarcerated, that another inmate named Omar Ballard confessed that he committed the crime alone. Ballard’s DNA matched evidence found at the scene of Moore-Bosko’s death, while no physical evidence could connect the Norfolk Four to the crime.

“It’s a victory for me, but there’s still three other guys,” Tice said upon hearing the news. The guys, Joe Dick Jr., Eric Wilson and Danial Williams, have all filed appeals to the Virginia Supreme Court after a lower court dismissed earlier petitions in March.

Due to a conditional pardon by then-Gov. Tim Kaine 2009, the three men are no longer in prison but still have convictions on their records, meaning they are ineligible for some kinds of employment and required to register as sex offenders.

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