The 'Norfolk 4' Belong in Prison

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I was stunned to see the Jan. 5 editorial on the "Norfolk 4" calling for Virginia Gov. Mark Warner to review and act on their plea for clemency before leaving office.

I was present at the first trial of Derek Tice as a juror in Arlington County in 2000, so I can speak to his case with some authority. The tape we heard of Tice confessing to his crime of rape and murder did not sound coerced. It was clear, lucid and filled with chilling detail about the brutality of the men involved and the reactions of their victim, 18-year-old Michelle Moore Bosko. This confession, which filled 14 typewritten pages, was no simple statement of guilt to appease an investigator.

My fellow jurors and I took our responsibilities seriously and carefully weighed the testimony of witnesses and experts, as well as the evidence before us. Ultimately, we found Tice's confession credible and found him guilty, as did a second jury in Alexandria in 2003, when a retrial was granted over a technicality that had nothing to do with the evidence presented in the first trial.

Now, we have new "experts" weighing in on this case who were not involved in the trial at the time and have not had their assertions tested by the rigors of an adversarial proceeding. The fact is, expert opinions can be bought and sold to support any theory one might care to advance.

The "Norfolk 4" confessed to their part in committing this terrible crime and either waived their right to trial or, as in Tice's case, were convicted by a jury of their peers. Tice was even convicted by two separate juries. Because the convicted men could not win in a court of law, they are attempting to be retried in the court of public opinion.

Unfortunately, the public will never know all of the facts that surround the bizarre and depraved crime that resulted in the rape and murder of Michelle Moore Bosko, but we should be able to rest assured that the guilty parties will remain in prison, where they belong.

-- Lynne Ragazzini


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