Eye On Olympia

FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2008, 9:43 A.M.

Supreme court news…

As ordained minister Virgil Montgomery describes it, the trip that landed him before the state's highest court began with a few errands.

On a shopping trip to Spokane, the 60-year-old Newport man and a 63-year-old friend bought some matches for his woodstove. And some cough medicine. And some acetone to remove old floor tiles in his old trailer. And a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to treat a dog's cuts.

By the end of that day in 2004, their borrowed Geo Storm contained a new pair of reading glasses from the Dollar Store and five of the nine ingredients to manufacture methamphetamine. And police had been trailing them since that first cold-medicine purchase at a Spokane Valley Target store.

Montgomery and his friend were arrested, tried and convicted of intent to make meth. But on Thursday, Montgomery got a pleasant surprise from the state Supreme Court. In a unanimous ruling, the justices threw out his conviction and ordered a new trial.

The court didn't say Montgomery was innocent. On the contrary, Justice Tom Chambers wrote that his "conviction was supported by substantial evidence." But...




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