Innocence Watch: Gov. McDonnell answers questions about wrongly convicted man

Jonathan Montgomery’s parents are preparing to spend another Thanksgiving without their son.

NewsChannel 3’s Todd Corillo first broke this story over a week ago and now he’s taking action.

As the only reporter to go to Richmond on Monday to directly ask Governor Bob McDonnell why he hasn’t gotten involved.

“Governor, are you going to step in and pardon Jonathan Montgomery?” asked NewsChannel 3’s Todd Corillo. 

“I don’t have any requests in. First let me say I’m very sympathetic to Mr. Montgomery’s plight. We have anecdotal evidence that there has been a recantation,” says Gov. McDonnell.

Eleven days ago, that recantation was enough for a Hampton Circuit Court Judge to order Jonathan Montgomery’s release.

He’s been in prison for the past four years on charges claiming he raped Elizabeth Coast. She now admits she made the whole thing up.

Related: 

Wrongly convicted man remains in jail after Hampton judge orders release

Innocence Project takes on Montgomery case

Woman accused of lying in Jonathan Montgomery case appears in court

Montgomery is still locked up because the Attorney General’s office blocked his release saying the court didn’t have jurisdiction.

With an innocent man still in prison and Thanksgiving just days away, NewsChannel 3 took action and went to Richmond to ask Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell what was going on.

“I have the ability to enact pardons. Full pardons, conditional pardons, absolute pardons, simple pardons, but at this point, I have no request,” says Gov. McDonnell.

The Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, which has taken on Montgomery’s case, said late Monday they were in the middle getting a request for a pardon to the governor.

In anticipation of that, the governor’s staff is already working on the case.

“I’ve already told our folks to evaluate the evidence. They are doing some of it now, in terms of the trial transcripts and everything else,” says Gov. McDonnell. “If there is clear supporting evidence of actual innocence, it’s going to be a pretty easy decision. But again, I want to help Mr. Montgomery.”

The governor would not give us any timeline as to when he might act on a request that could finally free Jonathan Montgomery.

“If you get it today, when would you act on it?” asked NewsChannel 3’s Todd Corillo.

“Well it depends on what the pardon, well I will begin to act on it the minute we get it. When we make a decision, it depends on what’s in the pardon request and what evidence they have to support the contention that he is actually innocent,” responded Gov. McDonnell.

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