When a Texas jury sentenced LaDondrell Montgomery to life imprisonment for armed robbery, he insisted that he was innocent. Police and prosecutors, however, insisted that he was the man who robbed a T-Mobile store. It turns out that he was telling the truth, but it was not until after his sentencing that his father showed that Montgomery could not have committed the crime because he was in jail at the time.
It turns out that none of the investigating officers bothered to review Montgomery’s prison jacket despite the fact that they used his prior record against him. The record shows that Montgomery was in jail for alleged domestic violence at the time of the robbery. His attorney Ronald Ray says that he asked Montgomery where he was at the time but that his client could not remember. It was his father who recalled that his son was in jail during that period and called his bail bondsman to confirm the date.
Assistant Harris County District Attorney Alison Baimbridge insisted that the prosecutors do not have any obligation to confirm such facts and that such problems have occurred previously. She says that she never investigated his record until after she was told about his alibi. For his part, Ray said he did not know about the misdemeanor domestic violence Montgomery was charged with in 2009.
It is a cautionary tale of the ease with which people are convicted in these trials and the unreliability of many eye-witnesses. Montgomery was convicted on such testimony. Jurors tend to put a huge amount of faith eyewitness testimony even though studies have shown that such testimony is often highly flawed. Here a witness sworn that Montgomery was the man who robbed the store when he was sitting miles away in a jail cell.
State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis was irate, stating “[i]t boggles the mind that neither side knew about this during trial. Both sides in this case were spectacularly incompetent.”
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