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tv   Dateline Extra  MSNBC  October 16, 2016 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT

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prison. there are lots of really big deal stories getting no attention at all. >> the hostage situation is over, eric houston has been arrested. >> it's the weird way human beings are, you can only get one thing in your head at a time. >> his effect on the city will last for some time to come as one spectator put it, it may be gruesome, but it's history. we, the jury, find the defendant guilty. >> you actually think they read the wrong verdict. >> you feel so alone and hopeless. >> it's like a shot in the chest. >> despair to hope. darkness to light. a fight for freedom. >> what happened to this teenager could happen to any one of our children. everyone should stand up and take notice. >> at 18, he was arrested for
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murder. adamant he was innocent. >> there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crime. >> i had nothing to do with this. i swear to god. >> what could lead to this? >> you stabbed her, didn't you? >> why would he confess to something he didn't do? >> why would he? what really happened during the police interrogation. >> i can't lie about the evidence. >> i can't lie to you about this but the officer is lying about lying. >> an extraordinary look inside the interview room. >> i was scared. i was shaken. >> this was one of the most intense interrogations i have ever seen. >> welcome to "dateline extra", i'm tamron hall. how could you confess to a crime you didn't commit? it seems to defy logic and
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common sense about the it does happen. but advocates say it happens far more often than any of us realize. here's keith morrison with the interrogation. >> a freak snowstorm. like an o men, smothered the town in the blue ridge mountains. february 19th, just before 9:00 a.m., winter or no, virginia was unused to this. the white blanket, a piercing sound. fire alarm. now the snowstorm was the last thing on fire chief's mind. >> it went off for a house fire with occupants possibly trapped inside. that ramps everything up to full force. >> the alarm was on a street with starter homes. >> a lot of kids in the neighborhood. you are running a lot of things through your mind. who are the occupants that you're going to have to rescue? >> the fire trucks raced to the
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home of the recently separated woman, ann charles and her three children. thick black smoke poured in. part of the roof burned away. >> we were concentrating getting up to steps and getting to the rooms that we were pretty sure we had victims. >> neighbors crowded in behind police barricades and one of them was an 18-year-old who lived up the street with single mom. an awkward sort of kid. a bit immature for his age. he had strep throat that morning, was taking antibiotics but nothing could keep him from this. his name was robert davis. >> everybody goes down there and starts watching. >> was the fire department there? >> yes, they were by then. sat there and watched for about five minutes and then one of the fire department people asked us to go 100 yards or 200 yards away. to get oxygen. it felt good being able to help out. >> kari greenly worried about
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the pretty young mother trapped in there and charles. >> she would come outside and play with the kids and we would talk here and there. but she was a really nice person. >> and then something good. ann's two daughters, katie and wendy, escaped unharmed from the downstairs bedroom but that left ann and little thomas just 3 years old unaccounted for somewhere upstairs. >> we put the fire out and checked the bedroom for occupants. >> nothing good after that. upstairs, firemen found little thomas on the floor beneath the window. dead of smoke inhalation. chief gentry. stilled himself for what might be next. he felt his way through debris and linking smoke to ann's room. >> i crawled over to the bunk bed and found a victim in the bunk bed and that person was
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secured in the bunk bed. both hands and both legs. >> tied up? >> yep, tied up. >> now, that put an entirely different complexion on things. this wasn't just a fire. >> so what did that tell you? >> this keys up. this is a crime scene. we basically extinguished a fire that left everything as is. >> then forensics investigator larry took over. >> the one thing that jumped out there that was out of place was a 5 gallon bucket sitting right in the middle of the living room floor with an empty bottle of rubbing alcohol. it didn't look like it belonged there. >> upstairs scattered near ann's body, found three aerosol cans. also accelerants. all liquid kindling for murder. >> there was a blob of melted plastic consistent with a smoke detector melted and laying on
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the floor and then a 9 volt battery that looked like it in the would go to a smoke detecter. it appeared someone removed it. >> so cruel and deliberate. all the more shocking in a town where murder is exceedingly rare. said detective phil jiles. >> it's not a common occurrence of homicide. >> how did it hit you and members of the department? >> you have a victim and then a child. the child, of course, that always touches you in a different way. because it's a 3-year-old child. >> these things do touch you personally, don't they? >> outside the curious onlookers were a beat behind. all they knew is that ann charles and her little boy were no more. >> it's devastating to me. i was in shock, especially about that little boy. and still didn't know what had
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happened really. >> it wasn't long though. watching the silent stern faces streaming in and out of that little house. that person couldn't help but put two and two together. >> it was very scary and i think the whole neighborhood was scared. >> coming up -- right there in that very neighborhood, police would find their suspects. >> they had recovered a knife. >> quick work from investigators. two suspects, two confessions. >> it was supposed to be routine. we go in and find the purse. and then -- >> reading the details and -- >> were they telling the truth? when "dateline extra" continues. what is success? is it a professor who never stops being a student? is it a caregiver determined to take care of her own? or is it a lifetime of work that blazes the path to your passions?
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>> a single mom and her little boy killed in a house fire, neighbors helpless to save them. but as investigators quickly discovered, this fire was no accident.
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evidence pointed to arson and the murder of the young mother as detectives search for suspects, the neighborhood's heartbreak turned to fear. who would want ann charles dead and was the murderer still in their midst? here again is keith morrison with the interrogation. >> at first, it was just a rumor that spread around virginia 2003 but pretty soon everybody knew it was true. it wasn't any ordinary fire robert davis witnessed out on the lane. >> you hear about it in the grocery store or the gas station or stuff like that. >> it was a murder. >> yes, sir. >> ann charles and her 3-year-old thomas were dead. horribly. the forensics man got a better look at it than anybody. >> this is probably one of the more horrendous cases i had worked in my career. >> larry couldn't give investigators much to go on.
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a few small footprints out back but forget dna. any possibility of finding that was flushed away by fire hoses. >> and then i get word from the medical examiner's office that they had recovered a knife that was sticking in the woman's back. what did you think when you heard that? >> sure enough in the middle of her back was the knife. >> so someone stabbed her. but who? firefighters tipped police that a brother/sister duo across the street, rocky and jessica, had been watching the fire, claimed to know the victims. robert davis and his friend, kevin marsh, knew them as aggressive troublemakers in high school. >> people were afraid of them. which is, they come through the hallway. people would just move out of the way for them. try not to be around them. >> kevin's friend, shy and awkward robert, seemed to be a favorite target. >> they called him retarded. fat, ugly, stupid. >> he tried to ignore it but
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they knew his vulnerabilities. >> i tried to keep my distance from him when i could and stay cordial when we were in close proximity to each other. >> safer that way, said robert. in any case, the detective s made a visit to the house where they learned enough to march down two days later for questioning. rocky admitted he was there to rob the place. >> i started out downstairs, jessica was upstairs first. the detective interviewed jessica. >> she eventually acknowledged she tried to save it was somebody else first then at some point, put herself there. >> it was supposed to be routine, go in, find her purse and take her money and leave. >> but then rocky way off script.
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tied ann to the bed with duct tape and turned it into murder. >> okay. who set the place on fire? >> rocky. >> who stabbed ann in the back? >> rocky. >> jessica told detective giles the murder weapons were a kitchen knife and metal rod for bludgeoning. at ann's house. >> couldn't find it without her and drove her out there and we walked then tire path and until we got to the hole and that's it right there. lo and behold, they reached in and discovered the two items were there. >> what was that like. >> these are intimate details and only those involved will know where the instruments were to kill someone. >> that was that. they had their story and their culprits. except there was one more very significant detail offered up by both jessica and something the town's rumor mill failed to
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catch by the time kevin and robert went out to the evening a couple of days later. >> we went bowling. we went out to eat. just had a grand old time. >> by that time, it was after midnight and about time to go home to bed. >> we were sitting in the parking lot just talking, laughing. and all of the sudden, multiple police cars pull up and get up, guns drawn. they order me out of the vehicle first and walking backwards with my hands up. >> and then through all the terror and confusion, it dawned on kevin. it wasn't him they'd come for. >> i see them getting robert out. kicking him by his feet. knocking him to the ground. ramming his face into the asphalt. putting him in the handcuffs. >> the story they told the police, they had accomplices when they murdered ann charles and one was robert davis. coming up -- >> i was scared. i was shaking. >> now, it would be robert
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davis' turn in the interrogation room. >> why don't you tell me what took place that night? >> when "dateline: extra" continues. mom, i have to tell you something. dad, one second i was driving and then the next... they just didn't stop and then... i'm really sorry. i wrecked the subaru. i wrecked it. you're ok. that's all that matters. (vo) a lifetime commitment to getting them home safely. love. it's what makes a subaru, a subaru. ...stop clicking around...travel sites to find a better price... the lowest prices on our hotels are always at hilton.com. so pay less and get more only at hilton.com.
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here's keith morrison with more of our story, "the interrogation". >> >> by all accounts, including his own, robert davis was a mama's boy. because of his child-like ways perhaps or learning disabilities maybe. >> he's easy to play. he's like me. he's gullible. >> robert seemed to need his mother, sandy, to protect him from the big bad world. while he took care of her when he was attacked by chronic illness. medication for which tends to slur her speech. >> he's a big dude but he's a teddy bear. he always wanted to grow up and be in health care, a nurse like i was. >> robert got in trouble. over a petty theft and his
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learning disabilities landed him in a special school for years. a family acquaintance was a resource police officer and known robert and his mom for years, robert looked up to randy, trusted him. when officer snead came looking for robert after the fire, sandy told him without hesitation, where he could find her son. >> i said, is robert in trouble? >> he's in serious trouble. >> sandy had no idea just how serious. or what was about to happen in that parking lot where robert was hanging out with his friend. >> guns pointed at you. you want to know what's going on. i was scared and shaken. >> why robert? because the siblings told police they had accomplices from their high school and he was one of them. another one was pulled in and interviewed by detective giles and his partner. >> we both looked at each other,
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this kid has no idea what we're talking about. he's clueless to what we're asking him. >> they lied when they finger him and the kid was eventually released. but robert had a far different experience in the room and different detective. >> there sitting across from you is randy snead. >> you knew him. >> since i was 12 or 13. i was on first name basis with him. >> kind of a friend. >> because i've known him for so long. >> why don't you tell me what took place that night? >> i was at my house, man. >> at first robert swore he was innocent but six hours later he had confessed to murder. >> you stabbed her, didn't you? >> everything you told me is true, correct? >> true. >> everything you've done -- you've been part of is true, correct? >> true.
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>> officer snead allowed robert to call his mother. >> i said robert, what did you say? he said, since they wanted to hear that, i told them fine -- >> what did it feel like when you heard that from your son? >> i felt like i was going to have a heart attack and die. >> around the neighborhood, people who had known robert for years couldn't believe it. >> he was always polite and i knew robert was a follower. and i just still couldn't believe that robert was involved. but yet, the boy said it himself. >> why would he confess to something he didn't do? >> robert's mother couldn't afford an attorney so the state appointed one for him. steve rosenfield. >> what was your impression of him when you first met him? >> he was scared to death.
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and robert told attorney rosenfield just what you would expect an accused murderer would say, he didn't do, didn't stab anybody, wasn't even there. he only confessed, i said because he was so scared. >> did you push hard enough to tell whether or not he was telling the truth or not. >> i do an investigation based on what i learn. >> he watched the tape of the confession which didn't look right to him, besides. >> there was no physical evidence that the crime scene to tie robert to the crime. >> just as intrigue, is this question. >> why would rocky and jessica include a kid like robert. >> the fugate siblings bullied him mercilessly and he was terrified of them. surely he wouldn't help them murder the neighbor lady but rocky was going to tell the
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court just that. >> his lawyer advised me that rocky wanted to get a favorable sentencing and was going to be testifying against robert. >> so big problems, rosenfield knew from long experience that any jury hearing rocky's confession would certainly convict him. robert would probably get a life sentence no parole. robert's only chance at ever getting out of prison was to agree to something called an alfred plea. >> we told robert if you plead guilty under an alfred plea, you admit there's sufficient evidence to prove you're guilty but do not admit that you're guilty. >> a man accepting a 23 year prison sentence. it meant he could never file an appeal. >> 37 years of practice, it is the hardest decision i've made to strongly recommend a client to take a plea for something he didn't do. >> but at least it wasn't life. he was sentenced at 20 but be
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free in his early 40s. >> the day i was standing in front of the judge, accepting that alfred plea crying and praying one day hopefully the truth will come out that i wasn't there. they avoided the death penalty and got what amounted to life without parole. and steve rosenfield faithfully drove out to visit robert in prison knowing the only way to get him out was to persuade the virginia governor to issue a pardon. fat chance of that. >> pretty long shot of getting him out before the 23 years from which he was sentenced. >> and then? two years after robert went to prison, rosenfield opened the mail and found a letter from, of all people, rocky fuget. >> dear mr. rosenfield, i have information about robert that i think can be awfully beneficial.
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you're welcome to come visit me. >> snail mail. rest assured, steve rosenfield's drive to the prison was much quicker. coming up -- >> help is on the way from inside prison walls. and outside -- >> this is one of the most intense interrogations that i've ever seen. >> that interrogation would soon be key to the case. >> i can't learn about the evidence. >> he's lying about lying. when "dateline extra" continues. what's it like to be in good hands? like finding new ways to be taken care of. home, car, life insurance obviously, ohhh... but with added touches you can't get everywhere else, like claim free rewards... or safe driving bonus checks. even a claim satisfaction guaranteeeeeeeeeee! in means protection plus unique extras only from an expert allstate agent. it's good to be in, good hands. the search for relief often leads here.s,
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>> i'm richard liu, both the clinton campaign and north carolina democratic party put out statements condemning an attack in a gop office in that state. republican officials in orange county north carolina say already completed early ballots may have been among the items burned there. police are searching for suspects and donald trump unleashes a tweet storm against paul ryan accusing him of fighting against him and calling
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ryan a man who does not know how to win. now back to "dateline extra." >> welcome back to "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. despite his confession, robert davis later insisted he was an innocent man. not the first time a man would make this claim but help proving it. would it be enough to persuade a governor? continuing with the interrogation, here's keith morrison. >> attorney steve rosenfield was in for a big surprise at the prison. >> it was shocking. >> it certainly was. rocky wanted to sign a sworn affidavit saying robert davis was innocent, had nothing to do with the murders. >> that was pretty powerful for him to do that, considering his circumstances. nothing to gain. >> but rocky's admission wasn't enough to undo robert's
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confession. >> and then seven years into robert's prison sentence, rosenfield answered a phone call. there she was. laura of the innocence project is a leading expert in false confessions by young people. she heard about robert's case and offered to help. >> what's really interesting -- >> and help us understand what happened to robert. we watch the interrogation unfold. >> this is one of the most intense interrogations i've ever seen. >> you have the right to remain silent. anything you say can and will be used against you. >> you have officers, very, very close to robert who is a big guy, pushed into that corn erin creasing the pressure without even touching him. >> randy snead, a man robert has long trusted begins the interview at 2:00 a.m. by which time robert has been awake 18 hours. >> not at the house. more than 70 times. robert insists, he is innocent.
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>> i have nothing to do with this. i swear to god. >> nine times, robert asks for a polygraph. >> i will take a polygraph test right now. i am being honest. i have said that how many times? officer snead, i was not there. i will take a polygraph test right now to prove to you that i was not there. >> someone offers to take a polygraph, that's a strong sign of innocence that should not be disregarded. then snead's partner ups the ante. they have evidence he said. >> they have evidence, he says. >> we know you were in the house. we have evidence. >> they don't have any evidence of that, by the way. though it is legal for police to lie in an interrogation. >> there was a lot of people. >> just after 3:00 a.m., robert asked for his medicine. he had strep throat, remember? he's also asthmatic. >> i need to take my medication. >> i'll give you it once we get going. >> robert has been awake for
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nearly 20 hours. >> i will call my mom. tell her that i love her. sorry for the all the pain i've ever put her through. and i had nothing to do with this. >> more than a dozen times he said he's tired and needs sleep. several times, he tries to sleep on the cold floor. at 5:17 a.m., they attach shackles to robert's ankle for no explained reason. more than four hours into the interrogation, randy tells robert he has more bad news. overwhelming evidence of robert's guilt. >> i have evidence -- if you don't talk to me, it can get worse. >> i wasn't there.
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>> robert, you were there. the evidence shows you were there. i can't lie about the evidence. >> no only was that false, he says, i can't lie about this, robert, when in fact he's lying about lying. >> officer sneed tells robert he faces what snead calls the ultimate punishment. he also says, falsely, he's been talking to robert's mother on the phone. >> i told your mom i would keep you from the most ultimate punishment you can get. i'm trying to do that and you're not helping me help you. i can't do no more. >> what was going on in there? >> there you see the police officer suggesting to robert that he's going to face death and you see the officer cleverly using robert's relationship with his mother. >> and that's when roberts' resolve begins to weaken. >> to get me out of this. >> just before 7:00 a.m., five
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hours in, robert begins to bar bargain. >> how many years will it be if you're just on the porch? >> when will i go home today? will i go home? >> i can't promise you, i'll do everything i can to make sure your mom and get you home. >> then hoping it might get him home to his mother, robert offers a story he hopes will satisfy sneed. >> went upstairs and heard something. i got scared and ran. >> robert, you're trying to tell me how the act took place -- >> then snead lies to robert again. this time, about one of the murder weapons. >> there's an item that you touched, right?
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left particles on it that did some damage to somebody. what was that object? >> it was a bat, a baseball bat. >> some type of clubbing device. >> clubbing device. >> snead knows the weapon was really a metal rod. >> i hit her two times. said if i didn't hit her -- >> i have somebody else clubbing her, robert. >> robert has it wrong. >> jessica already confessed. that rocky clubbed ann charles. >> you know and we know and that's the thing that has your -- something wrong with it that's yours. i'm not going to tell you. >> so again, robert starts guessing. >> i didn't kill the baby. >> i'm not saying that.
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i'm not saying that you raped anybody. >> i didn't cut nobody. >> didn't say -- >> didn't say you shot nobody. >> let me tell you, since you're not going to tell me. you stabbed that woman. >> i stabbed her. >> you stabbed her, didn't you? huh huh, one or two times. >> snead asks robert where. >> it was in the middle. >> and again, snead corrects him. >> you had a knife in your hand, all right, and prior to stabbing her in the back, all right, you cut her. >> it was essentially the police's confession, not robert's. >> tonight, today, i doubt it. >> why am i lying about all of this to you so i can go home? >> you're not lying. >> i am lying to you, full pledge, to your face. >> i'm lying just so i can go
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home. which is exactly what juveniles who have falsely confessed say was their motivating factor for falsely confessing. >> by 8:00 a.m., six hours after the interrogation began, randy snead has his confession. >> what you said to me this morning, to me, is that a true accurate statement? >> yes. >> okay. >> when rosenfield delivered to bob mcdonald, added volumes of evidence in support. and then, as they waited for an answer -- >> out of nowhere, jessica sent dear mr. rosenfield letter and admitted to the throat cutting, stab wounds to the back and absolutely adamant that robert had nothing to do with it whatsoever. >> so jessica's affidavit was sent off to the governor too and everybody waited and waited and then on the governor's very last day in office, more than nine
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years into robert's sentence, a decision. denied. rosenfield devastated drove to the prison to tell robert. >> robert and i hugged. we cried. and probably about the most painful part of this process. >> robert's only door to freedom slammed shut. >> some of the -- >> but half a world away, someone else was watching robert's case. could his opinion make a difference? >> coming up -- >> isn't a confession the strongest evidence you can get? >> not always. >> the police detective in robert's corner when "dateline extra" continues. ♪ using 60,000 points from my chase ink card i bought all the fruit... veggies... and herbs needed to create a pop-up pick-your-own juice bar
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see whto folks out there whose can do fdiabetic nerve pain... shoots and burns its way into your day, i hear you. to everyone with this pain that makes ordinary tasks extraordinarily painful, i hear you. make sure your doctor hears you too! i hear you because i was there when my dad suffered with diabetic nerve pain. if you have diabetes and burning, shooting pain in your feet or hands, don't suffer in silence! step on up and ask your doctor about diabetic nerve pain. tell 'em cedric sent you. welcome back. piece by piece, evidence mounted that robert davis may in fact be innocent.
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that confession, experts insisted, was coerced. even the admitted killer said he had nothing to do with the murders but his petition for clemency denied and then support from an unlikely source and a second chance for freedom. back with more of the interrogation. here's keith morrison. >> this is the coffeewood prison in mitchellsville, virginia. robert davis' home, this and other places like it, for something like 40% of his life. every moment of those years, dictated by one long night with officer randy snead of the miserable exhausted end of which roberts said the words he cannot take back. >> you stabbed that woman. >> i stabbed her. >> you stabbed her didn't you? >> yes, one or two times. >> most people say i would never ever in a million years confess. >> or how could you be so stupid and not know, you know? and i was young. i didn't know. i was naive. you know?
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i was scared. >> robert is not alone, of course. there are people like him in situations in jails and prisons all around the country who confessed as teenagers to crimes they maybe didn't commit. in fact, to prevent that very thing, police departments and many other countries banned or dispensed years ago was interrogation techniques still used in america. had the murder happened elsewhere, here in the united kingdom, it's probable robert would be for questioning and named as a suspect by others in the case. but the chances he would have been charged or interviewed for very long, close to zero. >> the interview as it is on the recording would not be legal in the uk and that evidence would not have been admitted into trial. >> this is andy griffiths. 26 years a detective? the sussex police department. recognized in his work for
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investigative interview techniques. when a rookie, british rules were much like they are in the u.s. but they are not anymore. what happened to precipitate these changes in the united kingdom? >> changes really came about through problems. >> like a national scandal after a series of high profile false confessions including an arson murder case eerily similar to robert davis'. >> instigated a whole review by the way prisoners were dealt with in custody. >> the result? a complete overhaul of the system. every officer in the uk retrained to rigorous standards that apply in every region of the country. strict rules were put in place for suspect interviews. all interviews in serious cases. video recorded. >> there were two cameras up there. one gives a head and shoulders shot of the interviewee and a if it was shown in court, it
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gives a clear picture of you. the other is a global view of the room. everyone who's in the room is shown in the picture. that's about showing exactly what happened. >> and this was key. no more lying. in america, it's legal for cops to lie to suspects. not here. >> could you, for example, go into this interview and say, i have a certain specific piece of evidence that tells me you're guilty if you don't have that evidence? >> absolutely not. >> can you talk to a suspect as long as you want to? >> two hours at a time and you should take recognized breaks and meal times, prayer times, and nighttime. >> someone a little challenged like robert? >> they're entitled under the law to what's called appropriate and that might be a parent, might be a social worker but they're entitled to that as well as their legal representative. >> but when the interrogation rules were changed, the veteran officers were not happy. they resisted.
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trevor remembers it well. >> senior people thought it was a draconian piece of legislation. that was going to prevent us from ever detecting anything ever given. >> never solve a crime anymore? >> >> they never thought they would tie hands behind the back and ing unable to work with it. they were wrong. >> very wrong. not only did false confessions all but stop, crime solving got better. >> detection rates in respect of homicide in the uk are very high. they're up in the 90% mark. >> and along the way, said griffiths, confessions of hall mark case solving in the u.s. became much less important here in britain. >> we would not prosecute somebody under confession. if someone did make a confession, we would try and corroborate what they said so you'd have the supporting evidence as well. >> isn't a confession the strongest evidence you could get?
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>> not always. >> what's wrong with it? >> they shape this confirmation bias. people look for supporting evidence just to support what's being said because the confession exists. >> we asked griffiths to watch robert davis' interrogation. and -- >> what this guy's problem was is he was arrested last and they said, we gospel believe the people arrested first so you need to confirm what we know. that's not a good approach for an investigator. >> the time of day of the interview. the length of the interview. the use of leg iron through the interview. the clear requests for medication and sleep at various points were all red flags. >> when you looked as you did and thought about it afterwards -- >> the life blood of any account is reliability. and the way this is done is you
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can't vouch for the reliability. >> we'd asked his opinion and he gave it to us. robert's confession wasn't believable and what we didn't expect is what happened months later when he spoke to steve rosenfield and offered to write virginia's governor adding his support to the clemency petition. a petition now waiting on the desk of a new governor. coming up -- >> i believe that the confession is an unreliable confession. >> strong words from the chief of police. and from the governor's office. the wait begins when "dateline extra" continues. americans are buying more and more of everything online. and so many businesses rely on the united states postal service to get it there. because when you ship with us, your business becomes our business.
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and bans edibles that appeal to children. smart provisions to safeguard our families. learn more about the safeguards at yeson64.org. welcome back. convicted on a false confession, advocates were adamant that's what happened to robert davis. yet still, he languished in jail day after day. then newfound hope. a new governor was taking
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office. would he consider the case or was the young man so many believed innocent destined to spend another decade in jail? here's keith morrison with the conclusion of the interrogation. >> i've never been emotional in a presentation as i feel in this case because i've grown very close with robert. >> for years, steve rosenfield made his case for legal conferences to anybody who would listen and robert remained right where he was in prison. during those same years, we tried repeatedly to contact and interview randy snead, the officer who took robert's confession but close we got was the current chief of police, colonel steve sellers. he wasn't in office when snead was a detective. >> you've talked to him. what's your sense of how he feels?
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>> i think he acted in the best interest. i think there wasn't a bit of malice in his actions. i think he had a very strong relationship with robert davis. >> but this was interesting. chief sellers did not support snead's interrogation. not at all. >> i will say this. i believe the confession is an unreliable confession. >> what's more -- the chief updated police methods when he took over to help prevent the kind of interrogation that ended up in robert's confession. >> i keep telling your mom i'm going to save you from the ultimate. >> what are things to not be done? >> using terms like the ultimate punishment. length of the interview. those kinds of things would be clearly not done today. >> cold comfort for robert davis who by 2014 had been in prison going on 11 years. a decade plus ago, unless -- there was a new governor.
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terry mcauliffe in office now so rosenfield renewed his appeal for clemency but well aware a tiny percentage of such petitions are ever granted and as month after month went by, it wasn't clear what if anything was happening. >> what's disturbing about the clemency process is it's secretive. >> what rosenfield didn't know is this time, it was different. the governor ordered a new investigation. >> law offices. >> just before christmas 2015, we were there when the call came from the governor's office. >> hey, carlos. it's steve. >> there it was. finally. the words he'd been hoping to hear year after year after year. robert davis was about to be set free. >> i'm elated. just in time for the holidays. today is robert's mother's birthday. come on, sandy, pick up. it's steve.
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set another plate for tonight's dinner. going up to pick robert up. >> oh my god! >> this is the last time i'd ever seen this prison. >> the final drive to robert's prison with the news both had dreamed of for all of those years. >> how are you feeling? i'm elated. words can't describe it. i'm so happy. if it wasn't for that man fight forge me right there, i wouldn't be out right now and this is just overwhelming right now. >> i'm outside of these fences, man. hello. i'm just getting ready to pull out. yeah. it's unreal, mom.
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as long as this ain't a dream, i'm leaving right now. >> and that very night, robert was together again with his mother, his brother and freedom. >> it's you! this is my boy! he's home! >> how does feel? >> it feels great. >> we came to see robert in his new apartment in charlottesville, virginia, his very own apartment in which he tells us there is no room for bitterness. there's too much to do. >> here we are. this is my humble home. >> not bad. >> yeah. yeah. >> how does it feel? >> it feels great, man. i haven't stopped smiling since i come home. >> i can tell. what are you planning to do with your life right now?
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>> get a job and thrive. i got this opportunity and i don't want to squander it, you know. >> he's got a job. working in a neighborhood deli. and he lives under the protective eye of the man who never stopped trying to prove his innocence. and who hasn't stopped yet. robert's pardon was conditional, meaning he has a parole officer and ankle bracelet and still a record. >> i don't think the final chapter has been written in the robert davis story. this governor expressed to me that the door was open for a reconsideration toward an absolute pardon, which would erase, expunge his conviction. >> so he would no longer have a record? >> like he never had been arrested at all. >> that's a possibility down the road. >> which is about the least robert deserves. robert and untold others now
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languishing in american prisons who confessed under duress. to something they didn't do. >> slowly, these stories are beginning to make headlines, and so now we see, eyes are beginning to open, questions are beginning to be asked around the country. and that is what happened in robert davis' case. >> one night of your life made a hell of a difference, didn't it? >> yeah. yeah. >> you know, it's a small town. do you ever run into randy snead? >> he lives here. but i haven't run into him. if i were to see him walking down the street, i would probably just keep walking, because i don't really have nothing to say to him. except for i told you so. i told you that i was innocent. >> so he was. so he is. >> that's all for this edition of "dateline extra." i'm tamron hall. thank you for watching.
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she was a married mother two of. she was a kindergarten teacher, nothing that would raise any red flags. >> she amazed them all. her whole group of girlfriends at the gym. >> she was totally dedicated. >> heather, turn around. you've gotten smaller. >> a stunning 200-pound weight loss. and a whole new life came with it. >> you could see that transformation. you could see the confidence in her. >> then, she was gone. missing at school. >> i called all the girlfriends. >> we're going to find you one way orhe

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