Convictions vacated for two cases of the so-called ‘Norfolk Four’

Joseph Dick and Danial Williams

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WAVY) —  A federal judge vacated the convictions of two of the so-called “Norfolk Four” during a hearing in Richmond Monday.

Danial Williams and Joseph Dick are former sailors who have long claimed police coerced them into falsely confessing to the rape and murder of Michelle Moore-Bosko nearly two decades ago.

Order to vacate conviction for Williams

Order to vacate conviction for Dick

U.S. District Court Judge John Gibney said in an opinion last month that evidence shows Williams and Dick did not commit the crime.

In light of Gibney’s opinion, Attorney General Mark Herring’s office said last week that it would no longer oppose overturning their rape and murder convictions.

Ex-sailor says he confessed to end grueling interrogation

Dick’s attorney George Kendall spoke to WAVY News 10’s Erin Kelly after the hearing. He said, “For us to be heard in federal court, we had to show that these men were innocent and I think what is very important, what Judge Gibney found, was that if you’re looking at all this evidence, there’s no question these guys are absolutely innocent of this crime. One person committed this crime, Omar Ballad, and only that one man.”

DNA evidence matched a fifth man, Ballard, who confessed to committing the crime alone. He is serving a life sentence for the rape and murder.

In 2009, then-Gov. Tim Kaine freed Williams, Dick and Derek Tice because of doubts about their guilt but allowed their convictions to remain. The fourth man, Eric Wilson, had already been released.  The four ex-sailors were all stationed in Norfolk when the crime was committed, in 1997.

"The Norfolk Four" L-R: Derek Tice, Eric Wilson, Joseph Dick, Danial Williams
“The Norfolk Four”
L-R: Derek Tice, Eric Wilson, Joseph Dick, Danial Williams

“What it means is that the convictions are overturned, parole will disappear, their names will be swept off the sex registry. They can begin for the first time in 18 years to begin to live like normal humans,” added Kendall.

Dick and Williams were not in court to hear the judge’s order.

“Joe Dick was not here today, Dan Williams was not here today because just recently both got, for the first time since they’ve been released, full-time jobs. They did not want to miss a day of work, and so, it has turned their lives, their families’ lives totally upside down. We hope this is the beginning of them being able to reorder their lives,” Kendall said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.