NORFOLK, Va., Dec. 21 (UPI) -- A lawyer says a former police detective instrumental in obtaining the rape-and-murder convictions of four ex-sailors in Virginia thinks they are not guilty.
Attorney Donald Salzman filed a sworn statement in circuit court that former Norfolk police Detective Robert Glenn Ford made the comment to a confidential witness regarding his true beliefs about the sailors' innocence in the slaying of Michelle Moore-Bosko, a Navy wife, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday.
Private detectives for one of the Norfolk Four, as the ex-sailors are known, have investigated Ford, who was convicted in October in a federal extortion and false statement case, The Virginian-Pilot reported.
The four said they were not guilty and that Ford, who is awaiting sentencing, pressured them into confessing to murder.
Ford's lawyer, Lawrence Woodward, said his client has never told anyone he believed the Norfolk Four were innocent in Moore-Bosko's death.
"The guilty pleas and verdicts are supported by evidence," Woodward said.
Salzman's statement that Ford believes the Norfolk Four are not guilty was part of a court filing for one of the four, Danial Williams.
The statement also said private investigators discovered at least three anonymous witnesses with information about Ford's conduct during a number of serious criminal cases, including the sailors'.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine partially pardoned three of the four men and all of them have been released from prison. They are appealing to have the 1997 felony convictions removed from their records.
Another man, Omar Ballard, confessed to the crime alone and is serving a life prison sentence. His DNA was the only match to that found at the crime scene.
States attorneys asked the judge to disregard Salzman's statement, saying it "contains several layers of hearsay" and is unreliable, the newspaper reported.