Four Navy Veterans Finally Pardoned For Rape And Murder They Never Committed

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Seelbach/Handout via Reuters.

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Four Navy veterans were fully pardoned by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe Tuesday and cleared of the rape and murder of 18-year-old Michelle Moore-Bosko that they never committed.

Danial Williams, Derek Tice and Joseph Dick were wrongly convicted of rape and murder; Eric Wilson was convicted of rape in 1997. The veterans, known as the “Norfolk 4,” were railroaded by a detective who is now in prison for unrelated misconduct, but received conditional pardons in 2009.

Now, twenty years later, they’re being fully pardoned and cleared of being classified as sex offenders, The Washington Post reports.

“These pardons close the final chapter on a grave injustice that has plagued these 4 men for nearly 20 years,” McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said Tuesday. “While former Governor Kaine had initially granted conditional pardons in the case, more exculpatory information discovered since then and detailed by [U.S. District] Judge John Gibney during exhaustive evidentiary proceedings indicate that absolute pardons are appropriate.”

Michelle Moore-Bosko was raped and murdered in her apartment in 1997, while her husband, Bill Bosko, was deployed.

Danial Williams, their neighbor, eventually confessed to the crime after being bullied and said the other three sailors Tice, Dick and Wilson were in on it. Authorities, however, couldn’t find any DNA match. In fact, authorities found no physical evidence, whatsoever, linking the men to the crime and instead relied on coerced testimony.

Inmate Omar Ballard confessed to the crime in 1999. His DNA, unlike the other sailors, actually matched the DNA found at the scene of the crime. Ballard is serving a life sentence.

Still, prosecutors didn’t drop their case against the sailors. Since the death penalty was hanging over their heads, Williams and Dick pleaded guilty. Tice was convicted of murder. And Wilson, although he managed to escape the charge of murder, was convicted of rape. Wilson served more than 8 years in prison.

But then, the Innocence Project arrived on the scene and after extensive review of the evidence, the veterans received a conditional pardon in 2009.

Now that they’ve received full pardons, the men are relieved and grateful to McAuliffe.

“We have been haunted by these wrongful convictions for 20 years, which have created profound pain, hardships, and stress for each of us and our families. We now look forward to rebuilding our reputations and our lives,” Wilson said in a statement.

The men qualify for compensation from the state, according to an attorney for one of the former sailors.

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