Feature Documentary

The Norfolk Four story is featured in the PBS Frontline documentary
"The Confessions," which can be viewed online here.

If you would like to comment on the film or share information, please contact the legal team here.

Click here to find out how you can support the effort to fully exonerate the Norfolk Four.

Case Status

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.

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.

A Miscarriage of Justice

Four innocent men, Danial Williams, Joseph Dick, Derek Tice, and Eric Wilson, all veterans of the U.S. Navy, were convicted of crimes they did not commit.  An objective, comprehensive review of this case by the nation’s leading experts in the fields of forensic pathology, forensic DNA analysis, crime scene reconstruction, and false confessions leaves no doubt that Danial, Joe, Derek, and Eric were wrongly accused, falsely confessed, and are all innocent. They were convicted based on false confessions extracted by a detective who has a documented history of eliciting false confessions and has recently been indicted by a federal grand jury on extortion charges. (Read more about the detective here.)

On October 27, 2010, the detective was convicted by a U.S. District Court on two counts of extortion and one count of making false statements to the FBI. He faces up to 20 years in prison on each count of extortion and up to five years in prison on the count of making false statements. (Read a press release issued by the Norfolk Four legal team following the detective’s conviction here).

In Virginia and around the nation, innocent people are being freed in cases where the exonerating physical evidence is much less compelling than here.

Click here to view a summary of the Norfolk Four innocence case.

Proof of Innocence

The real murderer, Omar Ballard, is also serving—among other sentences—a double-life sentence for this crime.  Ballard has admitted repeatedly, and confirms to this day (including in sworn testimony to a Virginia court), that he committed this crime alone.  The physical evidence conclusively establishes Ballard’s guilt.  Exacting DNA testing conducted by the Commonwealth has proven beyond doubt that Ballard—and only Ballard—was the source of semen and blood recovered from the crime scene.  And there was no DNA or other physical evidence whatsoever linking the sailors or anyone other than Ballard to this crime.  Nevertheless, four innocent men were convicted based on false confessions extracted by a detective who has a documented history of eliciting false confessions. 

Nationally Renowned Experts and Prominent Bipartisan Supporters Agree: The Norfolk Four are Innocent

Four former Republican and Democratic Virginia Attorneys’ General, a Republican former President of The Virginia Bar Association, twelve former US Attorneys and Federal and State Judges, and over thirty former FBI Special Agents are among the many respected individuals who have carefully reviewed the facts and concluded that a grave injustice has occurred. They have all called on Governor Kaine to grant pardons to the Norfolk Four. View the letter from the former FBI Special Agents to Governor Kaine, and footage from the former FBI Special Agents’ press conference.

Danial, Joseph, and Derek spent nearly a dozen years behind bars for a crime that another man committed, and Eric served eight-and-a-half years. All the men are still fighting to clear their names. 

Click here to view press on the case.

Click here to view a documentary film about this injustice.

Click here to Read About a Recently-Published Book on The Norfolk Four entitled: "The Wrong Guys: Murder, False Confessions, and the Norfolk Four," by Tom Wells & Richard A. Leo.