A Crozet man who went to prison for nearly 13 years after making a false confession in a grisly murder is the subject of a “Dateline NBC” episode airing Sunday, February 14, at 7pm.
Robert Davis was 18 years old when he was named as an accomplice by siblings Rocky and Jessica Fugett, who were convicted in the February 19, 2003, slayings of Nola “Ann” Charles and her toddler son. After a six-hour, middle-of-the-night interview by a cop Davis thought of as a friend, Davis asked the fateful question, “What can I say I did to get me out of this?” Experts have called that interview a textbook case of false confession.
Because of the confession and the threat of the Fugetts’ testimony, Davis entered an Alford plea, in which he maintained his innocence but acknowledged the prosecution had enough evidence to convict him. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison. In the ensuing years, the Fugetts recanted, and on December 21, Governor Terry McAuliffe granted Davis a conditional pardon.
“Dateline” has been working on the story since 2012, when Davis’ lawyer, Steve Rosenfield, prepared a clemency petition to go to then-governor Bob McDonnell. “Dateline” reporter Keith Morrison was in town in January to film final interviews with Davis as a free man.
“I’m a little nervous,” says Davis. “I know it’s going to be emotional, and I’m trying to prepare myself for that.” He says he’s glad the episode is finally airing. “I hope it will help someone in the future,” he says.