Man pardoned for wrongful conviction after NewsChannel 3 investigation
Jonathan Montgomery’s case was a dramatic reversal. Two weeks of legal sparring followed by a swift pardon from Governor Bob McDonnell. That sprang Montgomery from prison.
For Victor Burnette, our story on him revealed the shadow he’d lived under most of his life, wrongly convicted of rape, but without the government acting so swiftly.
“Being labeled as a rapist is an embarrassment. Even though I didn`t do it, I still feel embarrassed about it,” says Burnette.
A jury convicted Burnette for a 1979 attack. He served eight years in prison and decades on parole. Then Burnette himself found out 30-year-old evidence in the case remained in a file. He got it tested with modern DNA science, and it showed he was not the rapist. He applied for a pardon from Gov. Tim Kaine.
“I would just ask him, sir, please give me a pardon. You know, how many more years does it take?” asks Burnette.
The conviction cost him friends and job prospects. He tried to keep his story quiet to save himself embarrassment. But after two years passed without a pardon, NewsChannel 3 convinced him to tell his tale.
“It`s kind of important to let people know, hey, it wasn`t me. I tried to tell you that before,” says Burnette.
Our story got lots of attention. And then, we took Burnette’s case straight to the governor.
Just weeks after NewsChannel 3 started pressing, Burnette got his pardon.