RICHMOND, Va. -- The mother of a teenager killed in 1997 said Thursday that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine granted conditional pardons to three former sailors who confessed and were convicted for the crime partly due to novelist John Grisham.
Carol Moore's 18-year-old daughter, Michelle Moore-Bosko, was sexually assaulted, strangled and stabbed while her Navy husband was deployed. The slain teen's mother said the governor's office told her Thursday that Kaine was granting the pardons.
Kaine granted conditional pardons to three of the four former sailors convicted of the crime. Kaine denied the pardon request of a fourth former sailor, Eric Wilson, who spent 8 1/2 years in prison for raping Moore-Bosko but was acquitted of her murder.
The conditional pardons mean that Derek Tice, Danial Williams and Joseph Dick Jr. will spend no more time in prison. They each were sentenced to life for the crime.
Kaine said he decided there were "grave doubts about at least the level of their complicity in the crime." A fifth man, Omar Ballard, was later convicted and has said he alone raped and killed Moore-Bosko. His DNA was the only one found at the scene.
"Let him walk in our shoes, let's see how he would feel," a sobbing Moore told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from her Pittsburgh home. "This is nothing but political and John Grisham."
Grisham, a novelist famous for his legal thrillers, has said he believed Tice, Williams, Dick Jr. and Wilson -- known as the "Norfolk Four" -- were innocent and he was writing a screenplay about their case.
Each of the men confessed to the murder but then, after they were convicted, claimed their confessions were coerced.
"Obviously, Mr. Grisham's wealth and influence are far more important to Governor Kaine's political aspirations and public image than truth or justice," Moore and her husband John said in an e-mailed statement.
Since 2004, Grisham has donated more than $257,000 to Virginia Democrats, including $75,000 to Kaine, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a statewide tracker of campaign donations.
Kaine had two clemency petitions -- one for Wilson and one for the other three. He inherited them from former Gov. Mark Warner, who received them shortly before leaving office in 2006. Supporters have pleaded with Kaine to act on the requests before leaving office in January.
Former attorneys general and FBI agents, several lawyers and a homicide detective have come to the defense of the Norfolk Four, saying they were wrongfully convicted primarily because of false confessions.
Supporters say the pattern of the victim's wounds suggested there was only one assailant and that the tidy appearance of her apartment was inconsistent with a gang rape and murder. They also claim the confessions conflicted with each other and crime scene evidence.