On December 13, 2009, a man armed with a pistol entered a T-Mobile store in Houston, Texas, and robbed the store after striking a clerk.
Police focused on LaDondrell Montgomery, 34, because he was a suspect in several other armed robberies. After viewing the store surveillance videotape, Montgomery was identified and arrested.
In November, 2010, he went on trial before a jury in Harris County and was convicted on the testimony of the store clerk, who identified him in court. Montgomery, who had numerous prior convictions for a variety of crimes, including robbery, was sentenced to life in prison.
While his lawyer was preparing an appeal, Montgomery’s father noticed that his son’s rap sheet showed he was arrested on December 11, 2009 on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence.
He was released on bond on December 14, about nine hours after the robbery had been committed.
Montgomery had failed to remember being in jail at that time and neither his defense lawyer nor the police and prosecutors checked his record.
Montgomery’s lawyer filed a motion for a new trial and on December 8, 2011, State District Judge Mark Kent Ellis vacated the conviction and dismissed the case.
Ellis chastised Montgomery’s lawyer as well as the prosecution for failing to check Montgomery’s records prior to trial. “Both sides in this case were spectacularly incompetent,” the judge said.
Montgomery remained in custody, accused of five other robberies.
– Maurice Possley