According to the New York Times on November 11, 2008, thirty former FBI agents, 12 former state and federal judges and prosecutors, and a past president of the Virginia Bar Association have asked that the “Norfolk Four” be pardoned by Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
The defendants were convicted of a 1997 rape and murder. One has been released after serving 8½ years for the rape. The other three are serving life sentences.
Here are facts in the article indicating in my opinion that Virginia has convicted innocent people:
1. No DNA or forensic evidence implicated any of the four men.
2. What forensic evidence there was — including the neat appearance of the victim’s residence and the angle of her stab wounds — suggested only one perpetrator.
3. Before the convictions, a convict named Omar Ballard wrote a friend bragging about the crime in detail and saying he acted alone.
4. Ballard’s DNA was found at the crime scene.
5. Ballard had committed similar sexual assaults in the neighborhood.
6. Confessions of the four defendants were inconsistent with each other and with existing evidence.
7. Confessions of the defendants were coerced by a detective threatening them with the death penalty if they did not admit the crime.
8. This detective had previously been reprimanded for obtaining false statements from suspects under pressure, but the judges and juries were not informed of that.
9. Originally there were seven defendants; charges were eventually dropped against the three who did not confess.
10. Thirteen jurors from two of the trials signed letters and affidavits in 2006 saying they believed the men were innocent.
This evidence of innocence is overwhelming. I believe there was a miscarriage of justice and Governor Kaine should pardon the Norfolk Four.