Johnathan Montgomery innocence case argued in Richmond

Posted at 11:56 AM, Nov 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-20 19:08:16-05

Richmond, Va. (WTKR) - One year after he walked out of prison, Johnathan Montgomery had his day in court Tuesday to try and clear his name.

Oral arguments were heard in Montgomery's Writ of Actual Innocence case the Court of Appeals of Virginia in Richmond.

Montgomery was wrongfully convicted of sex crimes he didn't commit based solely on the testimony of his accuser Elizabeth Coast.

Last October, Coast recanted, admitting she made the whole story up.

Coast was convicted of felony perjury in Hampton in August.

Following NewsChannel 3's reporting, Montgomery was issued a conditional pardon from Governor Bob McDonnell.

That conditional pardon freed Montgomery from prison, but with the stipulation that he go through the process of obtaining a Writ of Actual Innocence.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined the case, personally arguing for Montgomery's innocence in court Tuesday.

His office would ordinarily oppose a the writ, but he says the evidence in Montgomery's case is clear and convincing that he is innocent.

"With Ms. Coast's testimony removed, we no longer have a victim. There was no crime," Cuccinelli said after court Tuesday.

However, the panel of three judges spent less time questioning Montgomery's innocence and more time asking if granting the Writ of Actual Innocence would pose a constitutional problem by going out of their jurisdiction and blending executive and judicial power.

"I have some concern about whether this court will follow through with its statutory authority and grant the Writ of Actual Innocence," Cuccinelli said. "Realize that Mr. Montgomery gets one shot at Writ of Actual Innocence."

It could still be several weeks before a decision is handed down by the court.

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