RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s governor pardoned four former sailors who became known as the “Norfolk Four,” ending a decades-long fight to clear the men of rape and murder convictions based on intimidating police interrogations.

A spokesman for Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the governor granted absolute pardons for the men in the 1997 rape and killing of Michelle Moore-Bosko. DNA evidence linked another man, Omar Ballard, to the crimes. He acknowledged that he was solely responsible and is serving a life sentence.

The “Norfolk Four” got their name because they were stationed at the Navy base in Norfolk. Their case drew widespread attention when their innocence claims were backed by dozens of former FBI agents, ex-prosecutors and crime novelist John Grisham.

One of the men, Eric Wilson, said the governor has “given us our lives back with these full pardons.”

“We have been haunted by these wrongful convictions for 20 years, which have created profound pain, hardships, and stress for each of us and our families. We now look forward to rebuilding our reputations and our lives,” Wilson said in a statement.

One of the men’s attorneys said they will now qualify for compensation from the state.

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