Jermaine Doss always insisted that he did not hire an employee to kill another man, as he was convicted of doing 13 years ago.
The shooter later recanted and sent Doss an apology letter, saying police and prosecutors threatened him with the death penalty if he didn't testify against him.
Doss's family also questions the conduct of former Norfolk detective Robert Glenn Ford, who was convicted in 2011 in unrelated cases of extorting money from criminals and lying to the FBI about it.
With few options left for an appeal, Doss's family traveled from their home in Norfolk to Richmond on Monday to ask Gov. Bob McDonnell to look into the case and pardon Doss in the 1998 killing of James M. Webb. They have created an online petition.
"We have a voice. We're trying to be heard," said Doss' sister, Felicia Dixon-Bray.
Phil Wilayto, a Richmond activist who has been working with the family, says the group was directed from the governor’s mansion to his office in the Patrick Henry Building, where a staffer met them “inside the entrance but before the metal detector” and explained the procedure and gave the family a form to fill out.
A spokeswoman for McDonnell confirmed that a staffer met with the family.
Doss, 40, is serving a life sentence at Sussex II State Prison.
Doss owned a hair salon and had sold drugs. Webb, who had worked for his family's refrigeration business and was a cocaine addict, was shot in the back of the head in his home in Larchmont. The shooter, Nathaniel McGee, testified in court that he worked for Doss and that Doss hired him to kill Webb. Prosecutors agreed not to charge him with capital murder in exchange for his testimony.
But McGee said during a court hearing in 2006 that he alone decided to kill Webb because Webb had disrespected him and threatened his life. He refused to say, however, who drove him to Webb's house that night and then said he couldn't remember.
That 2006 hearing followed a new law that allowed a convicted person to present evidence of innocence long after trial. Circuit Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. issued a ruling saying he didn't believe McGee's new testimony.