Everyone in Virginia’s criminal justice system knew that Johnathan Christopher Montgomery was innocent of the crimes for which he’d been convicted.
His accuser had recanted her testimony and admitted she lied to police about being molested by Montgomery more than a dozen years earlier. And yet the state continued to deny him his freedom until an advocacy organization for the wrongly convicted petitioned for his release.
Finally, on November 20, 2012, more than four years after he was sent to prison for aggravated sexual battery and lesser charges – and two days before Thanksgiving –Montgomery was conditionally pardoned by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and walked out of the Greensville Correctional Center.
“The truth sets you free,” Montgomery told reporters outside the facility.
His accuser, Elizabeth Paige Coast, had told police that Montgomery sexually abused her in 2000 when she was 10 years old and he was 14 and lived across the street from Coast’s grandmother in Hampton. Coast invented the story, she reportedly told investigators, because she was embarrassed and panicked when her parents caught her looking at pornographic websites.Read More
After serving two
consecutive 20-years to life sentences, a Brooklyn man’s persistence for a
review hearing was granted by a judge. Shabaka Shakur, 48, has spent the last 25-years in prison for
two murders he claims he did not commit. Shakur argues his conviction was the result
of a detective’s fabricated confession and a non-credible witness.
According to Shabaka, former Brooklyn North homicide
detective Louis Scarcella was responsible for his alleged incriminating
statement that was used as evidence against him.
Allegedly, Mr. Scarecella has a history of obtaining false
statements from defendants. The Brooklyn District attorney’s office is in the
process of reviewing 50 murder cases that are suspicious. Scarecella is
suspected of solving murder cases by proclaiming false statements from
After scrutinizing over a dozen similar cases, The New York Times was savvy enough to
notice a pattern of defendants arguing their convictions were false and
Scarcella was the investigator responsible for framing them. Criminal advocacy
organizations, defense lawyers and inmates were in alignment with the
suspicious synchronicity and requested the district attorney’s office dig
further into these cases.
Conjuring up bogus confessions was not the only consistency
found in the cases Scarcella handled. Murder suspects also claimed they were
railroaded by Scarcella using the same unreliable-eye witness for each case.