Cops, Courts & Prisons


Originally published in the Autumn 2018 edition of the Virginia Defender, issue 58, printed November 8. Reproduced here for accessibility and archival purposes. To find other stories in the Autumn 2018 issue or to download the full PDF, see this post (pending). For the full web catalog, see our Full Issues page.

Staff Report

Jermaine Doss, the Norfolk native serving a sentence of life-plus-34 years for a crime many believe he did not commit, has a new lawyer who is planning legal action in the case. 

Attorney Bryan J. Jones of Charlottesville says he will “probably” file a petition for habeas corpus in federal court by the end of the year. 

“I think it’s a strong case,” Jones told the Defender. “Of particular concern is the issue of his being indicted for one thing and convicted of a different charge.” 

Jermaine Doss was 25 years old when he was sent to prison for murder in a case in which he was originally charged with murder-for-hire. In January he’ll be 46. 

The only evidence against him was the testimony of the actual killer, Nathaniel McGee, who has repeatedly insisted that Doss is innocent and that he only testified against him because prosecutors had said if he did not that he himself would face the death penalty. 

Doss has always maintained he was set up by a crooked cop after refusing to pay a large bribe. The officer in question, former Norfolk Det. Robert Glenn Ford, was sentenced in 2011 to 12 ½ years in prison for taking money from criminals in exchange for getting them favorable treatment in court and then lying about it to the FBI. Ford was the officer who arrested McGee after the murder. 

At Doss’ request, the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project got involved in the case, but then dropped it without explanation or notifying either Doss or his parents, Willie Mae and Ray Doss, who have been their son’s strongest supporters. 

In May of 2013 the Defenders helped submit a formal request for a pardon from then-Gov. Bob McDonnell. The request was resubmitted after Terry McAuliffe was sworn in as Virginia’s governor in January 2014. 

Under McAuliffe, the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in charge of reviewing pardon requests, was Levar Stoney, now mayor of Richmond. 

To date, there has never been a response to the pardon request.

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