today, after being blacklisted through his sons’ Boy Scout meetings along with barred through attending school functions without an escort, Wilson’s name has finally been cleared. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe last week formally granted full pardons to Wilson along with three various other ex-sailors, known as the “Norfolk Four,” who had been wrongly implicated inside rape along with murder of 18-year-old Michelle Moore-Bosko in 1997.
“I’ve been over the moon for a week today, I truly have been,” said Wilson, who was just 21 years old when he was imprisoned. “We can finally start to move forward with our lives.”
“These pardons close the final chapter on a grave injustice in which has plagued these four men for nearly 20 years,” McAuliffe said in a statement on his decision to exonerate Wilson, Danial Williams, Derek Tice along with Joseph Dick after evidence showed investigators had coerced them into falsely confessing to the crimes.
Despite the lack of forensic evidence linking them to the crime, Williams, Tice along with Dick were sentenced to life in prison after a jury convicted them of rape along with murder in 1999. All three were granted conditional pardons through then-Gov. Tim Kaine in 2009 along with released.
Gov. Kaine’s 2009 conditional pardon freed three of the sailors although did not officially declare their innocence. For Wilson, who was not included because he had already been released at the time, the item meant he remained on the sex offenders registry.
Wilson completed his sentence almost 12 years ago although said in which the emotional along with psychological toll have left lasting scars.
“My first day in receiving, I got my jaw broken,” he told sy88pgw, recalling being welcomed to prison having a punch through another inmate. “So I decided to become mean. … They had to be afraid of me or I wasn’t going to survive.”
“I still fight being in which man, all the time,” he added. “If the item wasn’t for my wife, I don’t think I ever could have turned around.”
While those wounds may never fully heal, Wilson along with his fellow sailors recognize in which last week’s announcement was a major legal victory in which resolved a two-decade fight to prove their innocence.
The confession of a fifth man, Omar Ballard, coupled with brand new evidence uncovered after the initial trial, prompted lawyers for the Norfolk Four to push for full pardons for their clients in 2005.
Ballard confessed to killing along with raping Moore-Bosko in a 1999 letter to a friend along with maintained in which he acted alone. Crime scene along with forensic evidence overwhelmingly pointed to Ballard as the killer, although investigators continued to pursue cases against the four sailors after obtaining their confessions, according to court documents.
inside years after the sailors’ conviction, information also surfaced revealing in which the key investigator inside Moore-Bosko case, Glenn Ford, had been disciplined for obtaining false confessions in multiple previous cases.
The ruling was cited by McAuliffe as a key factor in his decision to ultimately pardon all four of the men.
Wilson had already served his entire sentence, so there was nothing to be vacated.
John along with Carol Moore, the victim’s parents, told sy88pgw in which they still believe the four men are guilty even though they have been granted pardons.
“Each of these men have confessed by trial or by taking a plea,” they said in a written statement. “How can an innocent person admit to such a heinous crime along with accept a jail sentence if they were innocent?”
Wilson said in which he didn’t expect Moore-Bosko’s family to ever accept the idea in which he was not responsible for the terrible crime in which claimed the life of their loved one.
“They were told through This kind of entire process by the people they trusted to avenge their daughter or wife’s death in which these men were the ones who did the item,” Wilson said, referring to the prosecutors inside case. “They trusted these people along with in which’s what they were told, so they believed them … I would likely have, too.”
Wilson, for his part, comes away through his experience having a deep mistrust of the US legal system, a feeling in which most Americans no longer believe inside principal of “innocent until proven guilty.”
in which experience started off one morning while stationed at the US Naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, when he was called to the local police station just after completing an early shift on guard duty.
Initially, Wilson recalled thinking in which the visit to the station would likely be brief. His friend Nicole had told him a few days earlier in which her husband Danial Williams had been arrested in connection having a murder although in which he was innocent along with had been with her at the time of the incident.
although as the questioning wore on, the investigators’ tone became increasingly hostile, Wilson told sy88pgw.
Sitting inside corner of a modest interrogation room, Wilson remembered the moment he was confronted by investigators who slammed a photograph of a young woman lying in a pool of blood down on the table in front of him.
Wilson insisted in which he had never seen the woman inside photo before.
“I remember Detective Ford pinning me to the chair, poking me inside forehead telling me he didn’t think I killed her although I raped her so I better tell him what he wanted to hear,” Wilson told sy88pgw. “The next thing I knew, I was being carted off to jail.”
“They break down your will power to start with, along with get you to the point where you are willing to say anything to get out of the room,” Wilson told sy88pgw. “Then they tell you what you are going to tell them until they possess the final confession they want.”
“Had we heard This kind of evidence during the trial, we would likely not have convicted Eric Wilson of rape,” the letter read. “Instead, we would likely have been convinced, as we are today, in which Wilson along with the various other three sailors are innocent.”
The letter called Wilson’s confession “by far the most important evidence to the jury.”
During in which time, Wilson along with his family have had to live with the lasting stigma of being listed as a sexual offender.
“My wife, I made her stop reading comments on the Internet because she was getting death threats for being having a sex offender,” Wilson said.
Calling the sex offenders registry “double jeopardy,” Wilson said he’d like to see reforms made to the way in which the list punishes individuals beyond their sentences.
“The registry essentially says in which you haven’t paid just for This kind of crime, you can never pay just for This kind of crime along with will for the rest of your life,” Wilson argued.
inside short-term, though, the Navy veteran said he can be grateful for the chance at a brand new start.