Charges Dropped Against Sailor Convicted of Capital Murder and Rape

On August 4 in Virginia, Norfolk Circuit Court Judge Charles Poston accepted the state’s request to dismiss charges against Derek Tice, one of four men known collectively as the Norfolk Four (pictured; Tice is at the lower left), who were originally convicted of a rape and murder following a suspect series of confessions. All four were sentenced to prison. Appeals by attorneys for the Norfolk Four alleged that Robert Glenn Ford, the police detective in the case, obtained false confessions from the men, partly by using the threat of the death penalty. A fifth man, Omar Ballard, later confessed to committing the crime alone, and his DNA matched evidence from the crime scene, while the DNA from the four sailors was not a match. Former Governor Tim Kaine granted commutations to three of the four who remained in prison in 2009. However, the men remained on probation and were required to register as sex offenders in their communities. Derek Tice is the first to fully clear his name. Officer Ford was later convicted of multiple counts of extortion and lying to federal agents in another matter. Ballard is serving multiple life sentences.

Tice was tried twice and convicted both times of capital murder and rape, based in part on the various confessions and original statements made by the four defendants.

(L. Hansen, “With charges dropped, Norfolk Four member free man,” Virginian Pilot, August 4, 2011). See Innocence. To learn more about the Norfolk Four, visit DPIC’s Multimedia page to view clips from a documentary entitled A Miscarriage of Justice or go to www.norfolkfour.com.