Man exonerated for murder after 14 years in prison files lawsuit

After spending nearly 14 years behind bars for a murder he did not commit, Lawrence Lorenzo Montoya was exonerated and released from prison. Now he has filed a $30 million lawsuit against the city of Denver and officers involved in his case.

Montoya was just 14-years-old when he was tried as an adult and convicted of the murder of Emily Johnson, a local teacher who was brutally beaten to death on New Year’s Day in 2000.

For more than two hours, detectives drilled Montoya, without a parent present. While the teen admitted he was riding in Johnson’s stolen vehicle, he told maintained that he had nothing to do with her murder, nor did he know anything about it. After telling the detectives more than 65 times that he did not do it, Montoya finally cracked and confessed to the crime, even though he knew he was innocent.

“He ends up being convicted of a crime because the police coerced him to confess,” said attorney David Fisher.

Montoya was sentenced to life in prison and that is where he remained until recent DNA evidence backed his claim of innocence. Altogether, Montoya spent 13 years, seven months and 13 days in prison.

“To me there’s nothing worse than a kid who at 14 years old went into an adult prison facility,” Fisher said. “It could be avoided and it needs to be avoided.”

Attorney Lisa Polansky said although Montoya was released from prison, he is now having a hard time with reintegration.

[ KDVR ]