SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The daughter of a Sussex County officer gunned down more than 20 years ago is seeking the truth.
The plea is the latest development in a case 8News has dug into for more than three years. The two men behind bars, Ferrone Claiborne and Terrence Richardson, have always maintained their innocence, saying police got the wrong guys.
Crissana Gibson was 8-years-old when her father, Officer Allen Gibson, was killed in the line of duty. According to Gibson, a new attorney and the Innocence Project have been reviewing the case, raising questions about what occurred.
Now, a statement from Crissana suggests the case needs another look.
Crissana writes, “The tragedy that occurred that Spring day changed my life in ways unimaginable.” It was April 1998 when her father, Waverly Police Officer Allen Gibson was shot to death in a wooded area while on the job.
In her statement shared with 8News, Crissana says, “Recently, I learned that an investigation into whether Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne were truly responsible for my father’s murder is likely imminent.” She states it is clear from her the dying words of her father that two black men are responsible for his death.
“Let me be clear– I want the persons responsible for my father’s murder to be held fully accountable for their actions,” she goes on to write. “If that is not Terrence and Ferrone, I want justice done for them AND IT MUST NOT STOP THERE.”
8News reached out to Claiborne’s sister Felisha. She told 8News, “I am relieved that the family has seen something that makes them want to look into the case. She said the Gibson family deserves answers too. She added, “I pray that Gibson family gets what they are looking for and for Ferrone and Terrence to get their freedom.”
Jarrett Adams represents Claiborne and Richardson, who are both doing time in federal prison for Gibson’s death.
After reading the statement from Gibson’s daughter, Adams told 8News, “Ferrone Claiborne and Terrence Richardson’s family and themselves have been screaming for someone to take a look at this case for over two decades now. Now you have joining in that scream, the family of Officer Gibson.”
A federal court jury actually found the two not guilty of the murder but convicted them of drug charges.
In a rare move at the sentencing, the judge used a plea deal from a lower court to put the two men away for life for the murder of Officer Gibson.
8News uncovered several holes in the case.
There was no DNA, blood, or physical evidence found linking the two men to the case. In addition, the men do not match a witness description of the suspects.
“There is no way of knowing the truth without opening the case,” Adams said.
A second statement sent 8News seems to imply reopening the case.
Lindsay Hartz, who is running for Sussex County Commonwealth’s Attorney, remembers the case well. Her father was mayor at the time and she says she is friends with the Gibson family. Yet, in her statement, Hartz writes, “I only recently learned of the volumes of research completed by the attorney for Terrence Richardson and Ferrone Claiborne.”
Hartz goes on to state that now, as a private citizen, she doesn’t have the powers to investigate the matter but writes, “what I do have is a desire to know the truth, all of it, and to push forward toward the pursuit of the RIGHT OUTCOME, whether that is popular with any group.
“That is what I will do as your Commonwealth’s Attorney. I will seek the truth.”
In a phone call with Hartz Tuesday, she said if elected, “I feel we have to look at this and put it to bed, but it has to be done with respect to everyone including Gibson’s family.”
Adams said this is about being transparent, adding “once they have all of the facts in front of them, then they can decide whether or not they got it right.”
Gibson’s daughter clarifies that if the judicial system finds Claiborne and Richardson’s convictions are solid, she wants them to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
8News also reached out to Hartz’s opponent, Sussex County’s Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney, Vincent Robertson.
He told 8News he plans to make a major announcement regarding the case Tuesday night on his Facebook page. He adds the case has been generating a lot of attention lately, with someone as far away as Australia contacting him about it.
But he says he would need a motion or paperwork filed in court by Adams or the defendants, Claiborne and Richardson, to take position legally in the case.
Robertson believes the right place for this case is before the President of the United States, adding that he would support any effort to put it on the president’s desk.