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Montgomery County man's exoneration will stand, attorney general's office says

David Kingrea mug (copy)

David Kingrea.

The Virginia attorney general’s office says it will not continue challenging David Wayne Kingrea’s exoneration from a criminal conviction that was based on false court testimony.

That means that an appeals court order earlier this month will stand as a final ruling in Kingrea’s case — erasing the Montgomery County man’s conviction in a child sex abuse case and soon, lifting restrictions that limited his ability to care for his special needs son.

“It is overwhelming. It’s something out of a storybook,” Kingrea said Monday.

The clearing of Kingrea’s name caps an unusual legal process that started when the main witness against him, who as a boy said Kingrea molested him. The boy, now an adult, returned to the courts years after Kingrea was convicted to say that he had lied and that no sexual abuse occurred.

The Virginia attorney general’s office interviewed the witness, then came to a hearing in Montgomery County earlier this year to argue that a judge should believe the witnesses’ initial testimony, not his recanting.

But this month the Virginia Court of Appeals ruled in Kingrea’s favor and said his conviction should be thrown out.

On Friday, Victoria LaCivita, communications director for the attorney general’s office, wrote in an email that the attorney general will not ask the Virginia Supreme Court to review the decision.

“We will not be appealing,” LaCivita wrote.

In 2014, Kingrea was brought before a jury on accusations that six years earlier, he had abused the 10-year-old son of his then-girlfriend. Most of the charges against Kingrea were dropped or dismissed. But after the boy testified that Kingrea had touched him inappropriately, jurors found Kingrea guilty on an indecent liberties charge.

The Pilot resident was sentenced to 12 months behind bars and was placed on the Virginia Sex Offender Registry.

In 2020, Kingrea’s accuser filed an affidavit with the courts saying that his testimony against Kingrea was false.

That prompted Kingrea’s attorney, Fred Kellerman of Christiansburg, to file a writ of actual innocence with the Virginia Court of Appeals. A review process began and early this year, the appeals court ordered Montgomery County Circuit Court to hold an evidentiary hearing where the accusing witness would be placed under oath and questioned again about what Kingrea had or had not done.

After the witness repeated in court that he was recanting his story and that Kingrea did nothing sexual to him, the case went back to the appeals court. Earlier this month an order of that court cleared Kingrea.

But that order was final only if the Virginia attorney general’s office, which sent an attorney to the evidentiary hearing to argue that Kingrea was in fact guilty, did not take the case to the Virginia Supreme Court.

Kellerman said Monday that with the attorney general’s office declaring that it would not push the case farther, the appeals court order will take effect early next month. The order directs the circuit court to erase Kingrea’s conviction, and with it, the sex offender status that has followed Kingrea for eight years.

“That should remove him from the registry then and there — and he can go on school property,” Kellerman said.

The ban from schools and other child-oriented facilities, something that Virginia imposes on anyone convicted of child sex crimes, was particularly galling to Kingrea because it impacted his care for his son, Dylan.

In 2012, in the midst of legal proceedings, Kingrea married the former Michelle Barker. In 2015, the couple had a son, Dylan. Two years later, the toddler had a seizure, launching years of tests and intensive care regimens.

Dylan eventually was diagnosed with a genetic mutation that causes a deficiency of the amino acid creatine that is needed by the brain and muscles. Other diagnoses include autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is a rare type of epilepsy, and more.

Kingrea said Monday that he was becoming emotional just thinking about being able to take his son to and from school. He said that he was planning to reach out to groups that assist children with severe medical issues — and that would be unlikely to aid someone listed as a sex offender.

“I want to thank the people that’s always stood with us,” Kingrea said, naming Kellerman and Lisa Clark, who works with the attorney. “… They’ve become part of my family because of the compassion they’ve shown.”

Kingrea noted that he always had maintained his innocence, even when he was facing decades in prison and was offered plea agreements that would have limited his sentence.

“I stood on the truth,” Kingrea said.

But the damage from his conviction, which included his not being able to find work, made victims out of his entire family, Kingrea said.

“It hurts my heart … We’ve had all these unnecessary dramas,” Kingrea said. “… I can tell you this — I don’t assume anybody is guilty anymore, just because somebody says something.”

 

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