NORFOLK/New Journal and Guide
After years of exposing the injustice to the media, and spending over $100,000, the family of Jermaine Doss thought they had finally gotten a breakthrough in his case in 2006.
Jermaine Doss was 25 years old in 1998 when he received a sentence of life plus 38 years in the murder for hire of Norfolk businessman James Webb. His conviction was based on the testimony of an acquaintance Nathaniel McGee, who confessed to the actual murder.
At the time of his arrest, McGee testified that Doss hired him to kill Webb in a dispute over drugs. McGee was sentenced to 17 years for the murder plus more time for related charges.
McGee later retracted his statement in court. He also signed an affidavit stating he only testified against Doss because prosecutors had told him that otherwise he would face the death penalty. McGee also wrote a letter to Doss apologizing for his original statement.
Ray and Willie Mae Doss, Jermaine Doss’ parents, were hopeful the testimony from McGhee would reopen the case for their son who has maintained his innocence all along. However, although the courts used McGee’s statement to convict Jermaine Doss, they now say he is not a reliable witness.
When their lawyer was unable to make any headway at the local level, they began gathering names to petition Virginia’s Governor Terry McAuliffe to pardon Jermaine Doss. Over a year ago, they say they turned in the names of some 3,000 petitioners to the Governor asking him to grant a pardon. Though they have heard nothing to date, they remain hopeful, they say.
To further bolster their request for a pardon, the Dosses say their son was set up by Norfolk Detective Glenn Ford, who Jermaine Doss said was demanding money from him in return for not finding a reason to arrest him. Ford is now serving 12.5 years in prison after being convicted in an extortion case.
According to an article in the Virginian Pilot, Ford was accused of accepting money from criminal suspects in exchange for getting them favorable treatment within the court system. He was also convicted of lying to the FBI during an investigation of the extortion. Ford was also the lead investigator in the controversial case of the Norfolk Four: four U.S. Navy Servicemen convicted of a murder but who many believe they were framed.
Ray and Willie Doss say they have spent over $100,000 on lawyer fees trying to free their son. They say they do not have the money to mount a federal appeal. Jermaine Doss faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison for a crime he says he did not commit.
The Doss Family is still hopeful that petitions for Jermaine Doss’ pardon soon will receive the attention of the Governor’s office.