Texas Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment Released After Records Show He Was In Jail At The Time Of The Crime

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.”

Source: Chronicle as first seen on ABA Journal.

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36 thoughts on “Texas Man Sentenced To Life Imprisonment Released After Records Show He Was In Jail At The Time Of The Crime”

  1. “I contend that much of this occurs due to the poverty, color and or ethnicity of the defendant.”

    And criminal record . . . the dude got life for robbing a T-Mobile store.

    There is no presumption of innocence if the defendant has priors — counsel had better be prepared to prove innocence beyond a reasonable doubt . . . especially where poverty, skin color, or ethnicity (add wrong religion) are involved.

  2. LK,

    I’ve lived in both states and I can assure you that Missouri is a paradise by comparison.

  3. “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.”

    Apparently in Texas it’s not a responsibility to put the RIGHT person in jail for committing a crime, just any ol’ body will do. I guess it’s a form of job security, there will always be more work if the actual criminals are left on the street. As backwards as my state is (MO) I’m still grateful it’s not Texas.

  4. This just goes to show how flawed this system people call “justice” is. Prosecutors oare out for one thing and that s convicitions they could care about thhe truth and until prosecutors are held accountable for their actions, things like this will continue to happen.

  5. Frankly and Gene,

    I concur and nowhere in Texas is on my “bucket list”. Though in my youth I drove cross-country 6 times, I purposely never routed through Texas, or Oklahoma for that matter. In fact it wasn’t until my hair turned grey and was cut down from shoulder length, that I even ventured south of Virginia.

  6. Frankly said, “The lesson here is never, ever, go to Texas – ever – for any reason.”

    Yep.

  7. I’m surprised that the state crime lab was unable to come up with some confirming forensic evidence as well. Maybe next time.

  8. The judges in Texas are not any better. We should make lawyers take the bar exam once every six months as pilots have to be examined to keep our jobs. All attorneys in this case should be refered to the bar for at least some discipline.

  9. “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”

    Although America legal history is replete with instances of the prosecution failing to confirm essential, exculpatory facts, I believe that the duty confirm to “such facts” is a principle of our legal system. If I’m correct then this prosecutor should be disbarred for stupidity. However, adding to this is another sad fact about our legal system which is failure of defense counsels to mount an adequate defense.

    I contend that much of this occurs due to the poverty, color and or ethnicity of the defendant. This is the curse of a legal system that purports to treat all defendants fairly. “Justice is Blind” is an ideal yet to be achieved, except in the ironic meaning of the phrase.

  10. Is it permissible to present an expert witness to testify as to the inherent unreliability of eye-witness accounts?

  11. When privatization encompasses a prison realm that is profit driven, the prisons get hungry for some reason.

    Like in Pennsylvania where the judges were sentencing teens to a for profit prison for kick backs.

  12. The lesson here is never, ever, go to Texas – ever – for any reason. Given just the miscarriages of justice we know about it seems highly likely that there are more innocent people rotting in Texas jails than guilty ones. And the real beauty of this form of stupidity is that means for every one of those innocent people the real criminal is free to walk the streets & strike again.

    Yet nobody makes any effort to figure out how this keeps happening and how to reduce the chances of it happening again. When a surgeon makes a mistake there is a board of review and mistakes are pointed out, preventative measures put in place, etc. When the courts make a mistake the prosecutor denies there was a problem (we got the right guy despite what the evidence says), the defense says “who, me?” and the court pretends as if it never happened.

  13. First of all the prosecutor has the entire record of any person convicted of a crime. The person preparing the presentence report has accss. If they did not do their jobs in this case based upon the defendant not recalling where he was should be sanctioned by the bar and bench. The defense should be admonished.

    OS,

    I recall that case well.

  14. “[i]t boggles the mind that neither side knew about this during trial. Both sides in this case were spectacularly incompetent.”

    *********************************

    I have an idea that even with this public statement on the record, the judge actually dialed back a bit from what was actually on his mind and what he would have liked to have said.

    The scary thing is, Texas has a penchant for putting people on death row following trials such as this.

    I recall a case from several years ago where a defendant produced a time stamped receipt from a restaurant showing he was fifty or so miles from the scene of the crime, at the time of the crime, but the jury believed the eyewitnesse instead. In both these Texas cases, I am sure it was only a coincidence the defendants were men of color.

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