NORFOLK FOUR GRANTED FULL PARDONS BY GOV. McAULIFFE
On Tuesday, March 21, 2017, Joseph Dick, Derek Tice, Danial Williams, and Eric Wilson, four innocent Navy veterans known as the ‘Norfolk Four,’ received long-awaited full pardons based on their actual innocence from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. The Norfolk Four were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in 1997; their case involved troubling issues of police misconduct, false confessions, and unconstitutionally suppressed evidence.
“I speak for all four of us in expressing our deepest thanks to Governor McAuliffe, who has given us our lives back with these full pardons. We have been haunted by these wrongful convictions for twenty 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,” said Eric Wilson.
See Norfolk Four Press Release here.
See Statement from Governor’s Office here.
On December 14, 2016, the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office announced in state court that they will no longer pursue prosecutions of Joseph Dick and Danial Williams, two of the four innocent Navy Veterans known as the “Norfolk Four.” The Commonwealth’s decision not to pursue the prosecutions is further evidence that Mr. Dick, Mr. Williams, Derek Tice and Eric Wilson are innocent and should now receive full pardons to clear their names once and for all. Only a pardon from Governor McAuliffe can ensure that all four men are able to fully reclaim their lives.
To find out more about this important case update, please click here.
On October 31, 2016, Judge John Gibney of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia vacated the convictions of two members of the Norfolk Four, Joseph Dick and Danial Williams, after finding them innocent of the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko in a September 26, 2016 Opinion, which stated: “By any measure, the evidence shows the defendants’ innocence – by a preponderance of the evidence, by clear and convincing evidence, by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, or even by conclusive evidence.” The September 26th Opinion can be accessed here; the October 31st Order can be accessed here; and the October 31st statement from the attorneys for Mr. Dick and Mr. Williams can be accessed here.
On September 14, 2009, Judge Richard L. Williams of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia granted Derek Tice’s federal habeas petition and overturned Mr. Tice’s conviction. In the opinion, Judge Williams finds that the state trial court’s grant of Mr. Tice’s habeas petition based on the violation of his constitutional rights was correct, and that the Virginia Supreme Court’s reversal of that decision was an “objectively unreasonable” application of federal law. Click here to read the opinion in its entirety.
On August 6, 2009, three of the Norfolk Four received conditional pardons from Governor Tim Kaine. Derek Tice, Danial Williams, and Joseph Dick, Jr. have been released from prison and rejoined their families after more than 11 harsh years in prison. Please click here for the Norfolk Four press release.
DANIAL J. WILLIAMS
Danial J. Williams planned to make a career in the Navy, but his plans were destroyed and his military career ruined when, less than 4 hours after Michelle’s body was discovered, the police jumped to the conclusion that Danial, an innocent man who lived in the apartment across the hall from the victim with his new wife Nicole, had committed this heinous crime.
Danial’s Character and Background
Danial Williams is, in every respect, the polar opposite of the kind of person the police should have suspected in this case. At age 27, he had never before been accused of any crime. A cub scout, a paper boy, and a member of his high school marching band, Danial was a shy boy and a kind, deferential young man who cared about other people. He enlisted in the Navy immediately after graduating from high school to follow the tradition of military service that his maternal grandfather and uncle, and paternal great-grandfather and cousins, had established, and he reenlisted in the Navy when his initial tour of duty ended, planning to make a career as a sailor. Danial married his wife, Nicole, after dating her for three years; they married just eleven days before Michelle Bosko was raped and murdered and were, by all accounts, very much in love.
In June 1997, Danial Williams learned that Nicole had ovarian cancer and requested leave from the Navy to care for her during and after her surgery. Doctors operated on Nicole and removed the cancerous tumor a week before Michelle Bosko’s death. Danial spent every day with Nicole in the hospital and brought his sick wife home to their apartment on Sunday, July 6, 1997 –the day before Michelle Bosko was last seen alive.
On Monday, July 7, Danial and Nicole socialized with Danial’s parents (who were visiting from Michigan that weekend), went to dinner at Cracker Barrel, and then returned home and went to sleep. While the couple slept, Omar Ballard knocked on Michelle Bosko’s door and, after gaining entry to the apartment, Ballard raped and murdered Michelle Bosko.
Danial’s False Confession
Despite his innocence, Danial was targeted by police within hours of the discovery of the crime, based solely on a hunch from one of Michelle’s friends. When police asked Danial to come to the station to answer some questions, hoping to help, he willingly agreed. Upon learning he was a suspect, Danial willingly submitted DNA samples and took a polygraph test, which he definitively passed. Despite the lack of any evidence against Danial, police engaged in a combative interrogation section, rife with pressure and peppered with lies – including false claims that a witness had seen Danial coming out of Michelle’s apartment late at night after she had last been seen alive and that Danial had failed his polygraph test.
After nine hours of interrogation, Danial Williams caved under the unrelenting police pressure, pressure that culminated with a forceful interrogation from Detective Ford—a police officer with a history of coercing false confessions. Despite the fact that none of the details that Danial Williams concocted in his false confession matched the obvious facts revealed by Michelle Bosko’s wounds, police continued to pressure Danial, feeing him facts and urging him to change his story to match the physical evidence, which he did. Only after falsely confessing to the crime to the satisfaction of the police, was Danial Williams finally relieved from their coercive and badgering tactics.
Danial Williams’s undeserved fate was sealed from the moment he relented to Detective Ford’s pressure and falsely confessed to a crime he did not commit. He is now serving a sentence of life in prison without any possibility for parole for a crime that a three-time violent offender, Omar Ballard, unleashed on his own during the midst of a three-week crime spree.
- Danial Williams’s Full Biography
- LIST OF AFFIDAVITS FROM WILLIAMS’ FRIENDS AND FAMILY
- Comparison of Danial’s Statements With The Physical Evidence
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