The mother of Robert Davis, who spent 13 years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit and who got an absolute pardon from the governor before Christmas, died in a collision with a tanker truck Thursday morning in Augusta County.
Sandra M. Seal, 57, of Crimora, was traveling on U.S. 340 just before 11am when her 2001 Toyota Corolla crossed the center line and crashed head-on into the truck, which was partially loaded with propane, according to Virginia State Police. The truck flipped onto its side, but the tank did not rupture and the driver was uninjured. Seal died at the scene.
Seal also is the mother of local musician Lester Seal, who hosted a fundraiser for his brother last February after Davis was released from prison on a conditional pardon.
During her son’s long incarceration for the 2003 murders in Crozet of her Cling Lane neighbor Nola Charles and her toddler son, Seal said the wrongful conviction made her family victims, too. “I’m a victim because I didn’t have my son for 13 years,” she said in 2016. “Lester grew up without his brother. Robert is a victim because he lost his freedom for something he didn’t do.”
She also said her health suffered as a result of Davis’ imprisonment, and that she lost her job when he was accused of the horrific crimes.
Davis, 32, was released from prison December 21, 2015, which was Sandy Seal’s birthday, and she was overjoyed to see her son free for the first time since he was 18 years old.
A year later on December 16, Governor Terry McAuliffe granted Davis an absolute pardon.
Davis made what is now considered a textbook example of a coerced false confession. Seal told reporters a few days after his full pardon, “I’ve been kicking myself. I never talked to my kids and said, ‘If a policeman wants to talk to you to clear something up, say you want a lawyer.’”
Steve Rosenfield is Davis’ attorney and represented him for years pro bono to get him pardoned after the siblings convicted of the murders, Rocky and Jessica Fugett, admitted they’d lied when they said Davis took part.
“Sandy expressed to me her greatest joy was seeing Robert exonerated and all the sadness from the years she waited for his freedom was swept away by the governor’s judgment,” says Rosenfield.
One day before her death, Rosenfield filed a petition in the Albemarle Circuit Court to get Davis’ criminal record expunged .