Travis Montgomery will face capital murder charge
Mental evaluation has been ordered for teenage defendant
By ED HOWELL
HAMILTON - A capital murder charge against Travis Michael Montgomery was announced in a 72-hour hearing and a bond hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 12, at the Marion County Courthouse in Hamilton, while the judge in the case ordered a mental evaluation of the defendant.
Montgomery, 16, will be tried as an adult in connection to the stabbing death of his mother, Sarah Renee Montgomery, 46, and the stabbing of his father, Samuel Wade Montgomery, 49, on Sunday, Nov. 10.
His father was airlifted to UAB Hospital on Monday, Nov. 11. County officials on Nov. 12 indicated they had heard he was improving and regaining feeling in his limbs.
The incident happened at the family residence Sunday night, Nov. 10, at 334 Slaughter Pen Road in the South Haleyville area of Marion County. Mrs. Montgomery died at the scene, while her husband had to cry out for help for hours until he was found. The son was arrested the next morning in Haleyville.
Travis Montgomery was brought before 25th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Lee Carter on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 12. Throughout most of the hearing, Montgomery calmly sat alone at a table in a white prison jumpsuit, with two deputies nearby, displaying no outward emotion.
"Because of the seriousness of the offense, the court will set no bond in this case," Carter said from the bench.
He also confirmed that, in addition to the attempted murder charge, the murder charge was being upgraded to capital murder. Assistant district attorney Paige Vick, who is prosecuting the case, said the charge was upgraded because of the role of a pistol that was revealed during the hearing.
According to the complaints filed by Chief Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Davis, and read aloud by Carter, Travis Montgomery had attempted to take a Smith and Wesson pistol and a 1979 Ford F-100 truck, both of which belonged to his parents. When his mother physically resisted during a struggle for the items, he stabbed her using an unknown Knife.
Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams said Nov. 11 that no murder weapon had been found by authorities as of yet.
The attempted murder complaint indicated that he had tried to stab his father several times.
Carter asked if the younger Montgomery had an attorney or if he could afford an attorney. To both questions, he said, "No, sir."
Montgomery was allowed to approach the bench where Carter showed him a form in regards to the appointment of an attorney, and was allowed to take it back to read and sign.
Carter appointed Hamilton attorney Tony Glenn, who was called to come to the hearing and arrived at its conclusion. The judge noted that Glenn was well qualified to handle the case.
After the hearing, Glenn was allowed to meet with Montgomery in the jury room across the hall from the courtroom. Glenn declined afterward to comment, saying he was still learning about the case.
Montgomery will have 30 days to request a preliminary hearing, Carter said.
The hearing had been expected to take place in the morning hours of Nov. 12, but other court proceedings at the courthouse delayed that until 2 p.m. Deputies brought Montgomery to the courtroom roughly 20 minutes before the hearing, ahead of local and Birmingham reporters who came to the hearing. A small number of family members and other spectators also watched.
Birmingham TV stations had set up cameras in court until asked to take them down by Carter before the meeting, as he said cameras were not permitted above the first floor.
Relatives sat on two front rows in the large second-floor courtroom, two on the west side and six on the east side. Montgomery sat alone at his table, looking down and showing no emotion or saying anything, wearing a white prison uniform. His handcuffs were unlocked just before Carter arrived in court.
TV interviews were conducted in the hallways before the hearing, but Vick approached the family members after some comments in the hallway became heated.
She told the family members to not talk with each other and to get along with each other, noting to family members tensions were high within the family. She also indicated that she did not intend for the trial to be conducted in the media. She planned to meet with family members afterward in one meeting.
Vick said after the hearing that Montgomery could receive a maximum of life without parole, and could not receive death due to his age.
Williams said Montgomery had been held in isolation at the Marion County Jail in Hamilton since his arrest, but was not on a suicide watch.
He had said on Nov. 11 that sheriff's deputies were called to the Montgomery's manufactured home at 4 a.m. that day. The altercation started at 11 p.m. the night before.
Mrs. Montgomery got up and went to the living room area and got into an altercation with the son. Travis Montgomery stabbed his mother first, Williams said.
The father woke up, heard some commotion going on, he said. Before he could get out of bed, the son went back to the bedroom and stabbed the father while he was in bed.
"He couldn't get out of bed; he was just lying there," Williams said.
The mother died in the hallway of the mobile home, Williams said, noting the son left the scene in his father's 1979 Ford pickup. The father got out of bed, made it to the living room but had no service on the phone to call for help.
"He made it to the living room to the window and kept calling for help. One of the family members who lived next door finally heard him around 4 a.m. this morning," Williams said, adding one of the family members found Mrs. Montgomery dead in the hallway and the father lying in the living room.
Marion County Coroner Randy Jackson told the Northwest Alabamian that Mrs. Montgomery was pronounced dead of a stab wound to the neck area and that she also appeared to suffer from other stab wounds. Her body was to be transported to an office of the Alabama Department of Forensic Science for further evaluation, he said.
The Journal Record's sister newspaper said Mrs. Montgomery was found lying facedown in the hallway of the single-wide manufactured home.
The Northwest Alabamian quoted family member Misty Turner as saying Wade Montgomery was found sitting at the window with curtains wrapped around his neck. She said she later learned he had been stabbed in the neck and back areas of the body.
Williams said investigators were unable to recover a weapon that was used, saying the younger Montgomery carried it with him.
Investigators discovered a possible girlfriend of the son and visited her Monday morning. Meanwhile, the pickup was recovered by the side of a road in South Haleyville about 9:03 a.m., Williams said. The son was not present.
"He had made it to his girlfriend's house and left in the pickup, before leaving the pickup behind on the roadside, Williams said.
Haleyville police officers then heard Travis Montgomery was at Royal Oaks Apartments in Haleyville, as residents at the apartment complex had spotted him and called police, he said.
Haleyville officers found him there with some acquaintances and then arrested him there without incident, Williams said.
He said investigators interviewed Travis Montgomery after the arrest but he declined to give any kind of statement.
"He wanted his attorney so we had to cease our interview", Williams said. "We don't know his side of the story yet, but he has been charged with murder and attempted murder."
As to what the argument was about, Williams said on Nov. 10, I was actually told they had put some restrictions on him, and I don't know what they were, although the sheriff said Troy Montgomery was mad about the restrictions.
"I understand from the family members who live up there that he was really upset at his mother, for some reason or another, more so than the father," Williams said.
The son will be 17 in January, Williams said, noting he will be tried as an adult due to the severe nature of the crime.
Williams said, to his knowledge, he did not know of any mental issues involving Montgomery.
Williams said Travis Montgomery was close with his father, but had some issues with his mother. He also said the mother had recently returned home after being away for several months.
Meanwhile, Phillips High School Principal Daryl Weatherly said on Nov. 13 Montgomery was a junior at the school and was basically a typical teenager. He said he was never in major trouble and was suspended once because he would not quit using chewing tobacco.
He said he had approached the teenager days before the stabbing about possibly joining the football team.
"I understand you used to be a super athlete," Weatherly said he told Montgomery. He said Montgomery "grinned from ear to ear."
(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.)
Travis Montgomery is escorted out of the Marion County Courthouse in Hamilton by sheriff’s deputies Randy Tice (behind Montgomery) and William “Billy” Pendley following his 72-hour hearing and bond hearing on Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 12.