Judge throws out life sentence for man jailed at time of crime

December 8, 2011 3:21:18 PM PST
A man sentenced to life in prison for robbery is having that conviction thrown out, after proving he was in jail at the time of the crime. But he's not getting out of jail any time soon.

It's the news every defendant whose ever been convicted longs to hear -- the case has been dismissed. In this case, it's due to a mix-up the judge blames on the defendant's own attorney and prosecutors.

On Thursday Ladondrell Montgomery, 36, returned to the same court where he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison just three weeks ago. This time the case was dismissed and a new trial granted.

"Give this man back his life! He is innocent," his wife Shanthina Montgomery said. "Let him go."

Ironically, it is his arrest for assaulting his wife which cleared his name. After trial, Montgomery's father and his attorney discovered Harris County jail documents proving he was in custody on December 13, 2009 when the robbery for which he was convicted occurred.

"I feel great about the case," said Montgomery's attorney Ronald Ray.

But the judge chastised Montgomery's attorney and prosecutors for not realizing the mistake sooner. Judge Mark Kent Ellis lashed out in open court, saying "...it boggles the mind, frankly, that it took this long" to discover the error. And "both sides are spectacularly incompetent."

Prosecutor Alison Baimbridge notes that Montgomery testified in his own defense at trial and never mentioned even the possibility that he could have been in custody at the time of the robbery.

"We were not aware at trial, before trial or until the motion was filed that that could potentially be an issue in this case," she told Eyewitness News.

Ray says Montgomery had been in and out of jail often.

"His memory just did not... He just couldn't remember," Ray explained.

Prosecutors won't pursue that robbery allegation from the day he was proven in jail but they have now re-filed five other robbery charges which they dismissed upon his conviction. His wife says that's unfair.

"Free my husband. He's an innocent man," Shanthina insisted. "He's an innocent man."

Montgomery has been denied bond on the re-filed charges. He remains in custody and because of his prior robbery could again be sentenced to life in prison if convicted on any of those charges.

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