The Norfolk Four

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Malcom
Posts: 815
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:18 pm
Location: Capehart

The Norfolk Four

Post by Malcom » Mon Aug 24, 2009 9:23 am

A friend of mine was the victim of an attempted rape while jogging in her Norfolk neighborhood about twenty years ago. When the police arrived the first question they asked her was "was he black?" "No." The second question was "was he a sailor?" "How would I know?"

The 'sailors and dogs keep off the lawn' legend is actually true. My uncle said when visiting my folks in Norfolk in the 1950s that he never thought he'd go to Norfolk voluntarily after being there in WWII on IOWA.

Norfolk, like a lot of places, has always talked a good game about being pro-Navy, but I've never been so sure. It's bad enough hearing people complain about Navy kids. What they say about 'squids' - a term I'd never heard until I got to Norfolk - is worse. Both Virginia Beach and Norfolk designed their at-large city councils specifically to keep blacks and military from having any political influence and keeping the councils safe for doctors, dentists and real estate developers. It's still tough.

Which brings us to the Norfolk Four. This week's New Yorker magazine has a brief article by Jeffrey Toobin about the Norfolk Four:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2009/08/2 ... alk_toobin

The story began on July 8, 1997, when Billy Bosko, a nineteen-year-old Navy sailor, returned from an assignment to find his eighteen-year-old wife, Michelle, stabbed and strangled to death on the floor of the apartment they shared in Norfolk, Virginia. An autopsy showed that Michelle had also been raped. Police immediately brought in a neighbor, Danial Williams, also a Navy man, for questioning, and after a nine-hour interrogation he confessed to the crimes. Three others from the Navy—Joseph Dick, Jr., Derek Tice, and Eric Wilson—were subjected to separate, lengthy interrogations by the same detective, and each man confessed. (Wilson admitted only to raping Michelle Bosko, not to killing her.) The abundant DNA evidence at the crime scene, including semen and the blood of Michelle’s presumed attacker, which had been found under her fingernails, pointed to another man, Omar Ballard, an acquaintance of the victim who had a long history of violence against women. Ballard, too, confessed—and said that he had acted alone. (None of the others had criminal records.)

This case also brings up a lot of questions about what the Navy might have done once the evidence was in doubt. Like so many personnel aspects of the Navy, a lot of it comes down to demographics and force structure. For the eleven years these guys have been in jail, the demand for sailors has plummeted and the Navy's profile in Norfolk barely half what it used to be.

I, too, have to read the articles at the following link to get a better idea of where the Norfolk City government and the Navy failed these lads.

The recent arrest of the black Harvard prof in his own home for being snippy with a cop raised a lot of racial and town vs. gown/class issues. This case should be doing the same. I need to read more to know if this interrogator is still on the job. [Nov 2010 - He's not! See below!]

Until I've read more of the articles, I can't have a strong opinion beyond that of knowing these fellows have been wronged by the system and the Navy. If you're from Michigan and thinking of signing up, the idea of being stationed in Norfolk looks a lot less attractive than it might have not just because of the way 'justice' serves sailors there, but because of what the Navy won't do to defend you. The Navy needs smart people now more than ever, and cases like this will turn them away in droves.

Sailors are inherently, always out-of-towners whether it is Rota, Gaeta, Charleston, etc. For that reason it is up to the Navy to play a stronger role. That much about the case I do know.


The following link, links you to all the major newspaper articles about them. Everything from the Va-Pilot to the NYT.

http://www.norfolkfour.com/index.php?/n ... and_press/
Last edited by Malcom on Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

Malcom
Posts: 815
Joined: Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:18 pm
Location: Capehart

Post by Malcom » Thu Dec 02, 2010 10:00 am

The Norfolk Four have still not received justice.

On the 20th of November the Washington Post published this editorial:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 03085.html

EVERY ONCE in a while, a case comes along that defies all logic. Why, for example, would anyone who is innocent plead guilty to a savage rape and murder? How could a jury convict someone when not one scintilla of evidence points to his involvement? How could prosecutors press a case against a group of defendants when a convicted murderer has said he acted alone - and DNA evidence backs him up?

Such are the sordid facts in the case of the Norfolk Four, four sailors convicted of the 1997 rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko in Norfolk, Va. Three of the men were released from prison last year after then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) commuted their life sentences to time served. (The fourth man was convicted only on the rape charge and had served his sentence by the time Mr. Kaine acted.)

The commutations were a positive step but far short of the full vindication called for by four former Virginia attorneys general from both parties, 30 retired FBI agents and scores of former prosecutors and investigators who studied the case. Freedom, while welcome, has not been kind to the Norfolk Four. Because the convictions were not erased, the men are forced to register as sex offenders and disclose their prison records on employment applications.

A new development warrants reexamination of the matter. Last month, Robert Glenn Ford, the lead homicide detective on the Norfolk Four case, was convicted of lying to the FBI and extorting money from defendants in exchange for falsely testifying that they had cooperated in investigations and thus deserved reduced sentences. This was not the first time Mr. Ford had been in trouble. He was once demoted after being accused of trying to coerce confessions from juvenile suspects.

It is not clear whether the U.S. attorney's office that prosecuted Mr. Ford looked into his handling of the Norfolk Four case. The events that led to Mr. Ford's conviction occurred between 2003 and 2007 - long after the Norfolk Four were convicted. Prosecutors should reveal the results of such an inquiry - or conduct one if it has not taken place.

After being freed, the four filed cases in state and federal court reasserting their innocence. They have lost their appeals in Virginia's notoriously stingy state courts; they are awaiting a decision from a federal appeals court. The commonwealth's attorney in Norfolk should review the case to determine whether the false confessions, absence of physical evidence and Mr. Ford's conviction should prompt the state to admit that it erred in prosecuting the men. Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) should also take another look. The duty of the state and its prosecutors is not to secure convictions but to seek justice. There remain grave doubts whether this has been done in the case of the Norfolk Four.

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