Case not closed: Special prosecutor named in Crozet murders
New allegations and a pending a clemency petition have prompted the naming of a special prosecutor in the case of Robert Davis, currently jailed for a 2003 double murder in Crozet that he (as well as one of those convicted in the homicides) is saying that he didn't commit.
Davis, 27, has been imprisoned since a couple of days after that horrific night in February 2003 when Nola Annette Charles, who was beaten and stabbed to death, and her toddler son, Thomas, died of smoke inhalation in the fire set to cover up the crime.
Davis' attorney, Steve Rosenfield, maintains that police coerced the then 18-year-old Davis into making a false confession after a five-hour, middle-of-the-night interrogation in which the Western Albemarle High School student said dozens of times that he wasn't involved.
Davis had been implicated by two Cling Lane neighborhood siblings, 19-year-old Rocky and 15-year-old Jessica Fugett, both of whom were convicted and currently are in state prison serving 75- and 100-year sentences, respectively. Jessica Fugett has admitted knifing Charles.
In 2004, Davis entered an Alford plea, which recognizes the prosecution has enough evidence to convict but the defendant does not admit guilt. He was sentenced to 23 years in prison.
In 2006, Rocky Fugett contacted Rosenfield and recanted his previous statements that Davis was involved in the killings and torching of the murder house on Cling Lane. He's subsequently sworn an affidavit to that effect.
In April, Fugett, 27, met with reporters from the Hook and Daily Progress at Sussex II State Prison, and said Robert Davis had nothing to do with the stabbing of Nola Charles. He added that another teen who had never been charged was involved the night he and his sister were in the Charles house.
Fugett alleged that the dead woman's daughter, then 15-year-old Wendie Charles, was the instigator of what he described as a prank gone bad. The Hook was unable to reach Charles, a recent grad of Sweet Briar in Amherst. In a 2003 interview with police, she denied she was involved in the murderous activities.
Albemarle Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford requested a special prosecutor in Davis' upcoming clemency petition because she represented him at a private attorney during his criminal proceedings.
Judge Cheryl Higgins signed the order July 7 naming Fluvanna Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Haislip special prosecutor.
"I would be in place if new evidence turns up in the petition for clemency," says Haislip, who just received the order Friday, July 8. "Any allegations of new evidence we'll be looking into."
Defense attorney Rosenfield has not completed the clemency petition, which goes to Governor Bob McDonnell. Executive clemency is rare in Virginia, and McDonnell has not weighed in on one during his term in office. His decision will determine whether Davis gets out of prison.
"I have confidence in Jeff Haislip," says Rosenfield. "He'll do a conscientious job."This story is a part of the The recantation of Robert Davis special.