Update February 20, 2015
Richmond, Va. (WTKR) - Senate Bill 843, the bill to compensate Jonathan Montgomery for wrongful conviction and imprisonment passed the House of Delegates on Friday with a 96-0 vote.
The bill will provide approximately $175,000 to Montgomery.
Update February 3, 2015:
Richmond, Va. (WTKR) - Senate Bill 843, providing compensation for Jonathan Montgomery, passed the Virginia Senate with a 38-0 vote on Monday, February 2, 2015.
Update January 27, 2015:
Richmond, Va. (WTKR)- Senate Bill 843, to provide compensation for Jonathan Montgomery, advanced out of the Senate Finance Committee in the Virginia General Assembly by a 15-0 unanimous vote on Wednesday, January 27, 2015.
The office of Senator Mamie Locke, the patron of the bill, says the bill should get first reading on Thursday during session.
“I think that this is the right thing for the state to do because this is a young man that spent four years of his life in prison for something that he absolutely did not do,” Senator Locke told NewsChannel 3 earlier this month.
Richmond, Va. (WTKR) – A bill filed for the upcoming session of the Virginia General Assembly will provide compensation for Jonathan Montgomery.
Sponsored by Senator Mamie Locke of Hampton, SB843 would provide $175,440 in relief to Montgomery after he spent more than four years locked up for a crime he did not commit.
“It’s important for me because it catches up on lost job time. As far as the money is concerned – to pay my car off, do things that I would have been able to do before I was locked up,” Montgomery told NewsChannel 3’s Todd Corillo.
Montgomery believes the bill will give him some closure to a nightmare that has lasted for more than 6 years.
It began with a knock at the door at his home in Florida in November 2007 when a police officer had a warrant for his arrest out of Virginia.
In 2008, he was convicted of sexually assaulting Elizabeth Paige Coast based on her testimony alone.
At the time, the then-17-year-old Coast claimed that Montgomery assaulted her outside of her grandmother’s Hampton home 7 years earlier.
Coast would have been 10 at the time and Montgomery 14.
After being convicted, Montgomery was sentenced to 7.5 years in prison.
It was a prison sentence that he had already served more than 4 years of when Coast recanted her entire story on October 31, 2012.
She admitted the story was false – she had been caught by her parents looking at pornographic websites and made up the story of sexual assault to explain her behavior.
A Hampton Circuit Court Judge then ordered Montgomery be released from prison but then-Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli blocked the release, claiming it wasn’t permissible under law.
NewsChannel 3 Took Action, going to Richmond to ask then-Governor Bob McDonnell to intervene.
He did the very next day, granting Montgomery a Conditional Pardon which freed him from prison just two days before Thanksgiving 2012.
However, his name was not totally free and clear until the Virginia Court of Appeals granted him a Writ of Actual Innocence in December 2013.
In August of 2013, Elizabeth Coast was convicted of perjury and sentenced to two months in jail, which she was permitted to serve on weekends, as well as $90,000 in restitution.
Now, in January 2015, Montgomery is hopeful that this bill in the General Assembly may finally be the end to his prolonged nightmare.
“I believe after all this is done that it’s over with. This will be the finale I was looking for, the finishing touch to let me move on with my life without having any attachments to the court system or anything like that.”
“As far as the bill is filed – getting to this point? It’s been very helpful. You guys have done everything. I can’t put words what NewsChannel 3 has helped me into effect. I just don’t know what to say,” Montgomery continued.
As far as Elizabeth Coast is concerned, Montgomery says he doesn’t think of her much these days.
“I let it go. I haven’t thought about her really. Every now and then it itches a nerve but I don’t let that try to hold me back and I definitely don’t let that bother me at all.”
Instead, he’s focused on the future, thinking about the bills he could pay, the down payment on a home and the business he hopes to invest in.
“I think that I finally thought of what my niche is going to be. I’m going to use a good portion of the money to invest in my friend’s business.”
SB843 has been filed ahead of the Virginia General Assembly’s upcoming January session and referred to the Finance Committee.
Count on NewsChannel 3 for updates on the progress of SB843.