RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) - A man exonerated last week but kept imprisoned per the Virginia attorney general's orders spoke exclusively to 10 On Your Side.
Jonathan Montgomery was sentenced by Hampton judge Randolph West to 7.5 years in prison in 2008 for the 2000 sexual assault of Elizabeth Coast. Last week, West tossed Montgomery's conviction on the grounds that Coast had fabricated the assault story.
It was learned that Coast, who worked with the Hampton Police Division, confessed to a detective 'that she lied about a sexual assault... lied at the trial... and sent an innocent man to jail."
Coast has been charged with perjury.
"I am not angry," Montgomery told WAVY.com. "I am disappointed that she didn't come out with this sooner."
Montgomery was asked by WAVY.com if he resents West for originally finding him guilty of a crime he did not commit.
"After hearing him apologize openly in court Friday, and on the record, I can't hold him personally responsible," Montgomery said. "We screamed it out every day that someone was lying, and something was going on."
Although Montgomery's conviction was thrown out, he was not freed because Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli blocked the decision, saying the Hampton judge did not have proper jurisdiction to make the decision that falls under the Virginia Court of Appeals.
"Virginia law will not allow the immediate release of Mr. Montgomery, and the attorney general is obligated to follow the law," said Brian Gottstein, the attorney general's director of communication. "Our research shows that the order from the trial court to vacate the three and a half year-old conviction appears void on its face, as the trial court does not have jurisdiction to enter the order according to Virginia's 21-day rule. Authority to get around the rule -- to pardon or commute the sentence -- does not rest with the attorney general."
Montgomery told WAVY.com he is disappointed with Cuccinelli's approach and hopes Cuccinelli will do everything he can to expedite his release.
"I actually have in my hand a Department of Corrections legal update that I am not serving time and says I should be released as of Nov. 9, 2012," Montgomery said. "I am upset that they wanted to take this to the next level of long form imprisonment and it is very disheartening that they would stoop to this level."
WAVY.com visited Coast's home in Newport News to ask her about the incident, but no one answered the door.
"I haven't had a paying job for four and half years because of this," Montgomery said. "She's taken away the Christmases, the Thanksgivings, the visits with family, my liberty, going fishing... it's the simple things that you don't have anymore."
In the four years of imprisonment, Montgomery lost 134 pounds. He has learned how to be a plumber.
During the trial that put him in prison, Montgomery tried to not look at Coast because of the anger he had. He kept his composure as tough as that was.
"I can't tell you how tough it is to get letters of events you have not been to because you are stuck in jail," Montgomery said.
The Montgomery family has not put up regular Christmas decorations for the length of the time their son has been in jail but instead have hung a star of hope.
"In the worst of times... times you always have with family you can count on. That's what the star in the tree at home means to me. Doing father-son activities means everything to me," Montgomery said.
In an email Tuesday, Cuccinelli said he is dedicated to expediting a Court of Appeals process.
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