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08/02/2017

Montgomery enters guilty plea

Montgomery pleads guilty to mother’s murder in 2013
        Sentencing hearing set for September

 7-13-17 TRAVIS MONTGOMERY-DSCN1657.JPG

Travis Montgomery

Article contributed by The Journal Record

By TRACY ESTES
News Editor

Hamilton - A young man charged with murdering his mother and leaving his father with multiple stab wounds has entered a guilty plea in the case.


Travis Michael Montgomery, 20, had been charged in the case following an altercation in the family home in November 2013.


The plea agreement comes less than three months after the defendant appeared before Marion County Circuit Court Judge Lee Carter claiming the actions had been taken in self defense.


No sentence in the case has been announced as Carter will determine the defendent’s fate at a hearing in September.


In an interview with the Journal Record, Marion County District Attorney Scott Slatton said the plea agreement means Montgomery has agreed to the felony murder and attempted murder charges with the state agreeing to drop charges for first- and second-degree theft of property.
Noting the fact the parties did not agree to a sentencing or term to be served in prison, Slatton called the agreement a “blind plea.’’


No agreement was reached between the attorneys as to how long Montgomery would serve for the crimes.


“This is the same as having a jury reach a guilty verdict and then the judge determines the sentence,’’ Slatton said.


Under state law, Slatton said the more than 46 months Montgomery will have served at the time of sentencing will be deducted from the total time he will serve from that point forward.


 Serving as defense counsel in the case are Jim Standridge of Tuscaloosa and Tony Glenn of Hamilton.


Background


In the April 21 hearing at the Marion County Courthouse, Montgomery had been led in wearing handcuff and leg chains with the restraints being removed prior to the hearing.


The defendant’s father, Wade Montgomery, had been questioned by Standridge for almost two hours prior to the lunchtime intermission.


The testimony painted the picture of the young man’s home life and the series of events which occurred in the hours leading up to the fight which resulted in the father’s stab wounds and the mother’s death.


In his testimony, the father confirmed the hearing marked the first time he had seen his son since the incident more than 41 months earlier.


The elder Montgomery, who noted he and his wife had been married for more than 28 years prior to her death, including two stints in which the couple was separated.


The second separation ended about three months prior to Renee Montgomery’s death. She was 46 while her husband was 49 at the time.


Wade Montgomery said the defendant was the youngest of the couple’s three sons, but was the only one still living at home at the time of the event.


In his response to questions posed by Standridge, Wade Montgomery confirmed the couple had custody of two of their grandchildren earlier in the year prior to her death. Yet the couple eventually forfeited such custody after she failed a drug test.


Throughout his testimony, Wade Montgomery confirmed his late wife was a known user of marijuana. He said she had smoked the illegal substance in their home numerous times—a practice not witnessed by the children or grandchildren. He said his wife would smoke marijuana in the privacy of her bedroom.


Wade Montgomery agreed when asked by Standridge if his wife regularly sold sex toys from their home while also scheduling parties for women to which male dancers attended wearing nothing more than a “G-String,’’ to use the husband’s definition.


But the turn of events which led to the fatal incident began just before midnight on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2013.


Testimony revealed where the Montgomerys were awakened in their home by police around 11 p.m. that evening.


Authorities informed the couple their son was being held at the Haleyville Police Department under charges of public intoxication.


Wade Montgomery said it was only after the couple had arrived at the department they were informed of the charges against their son.


Referencing prior testimony given in a deposition for the case, Wade Montgomery said the only words uttered by his son while sitting in the police department in handcuffs were “I want to die.’’


Released to his parents, the younger Montgomery was taken to the Walker Baptist Medical Center in Jasper where his parents believed he could receive treatment.


Officials at the hospital said they were not designed to offer adolescent physiological care. Montgomery said the hospital officials began searching for a facility which could admit the teen for treatment.


Stepping outside to their car, the couple returned later to be told their son had rejected the option of being treated at a facility in Decatur. Officials in Jasper had secured a bed for Montgomery, but he refused to be transferred.


While outside, the couple reviewed material contained on their son’s cell phone, only to learn he was involved in a relationship with a woman in her early 20s—something which did not set well with his mother. Further testimony would reveal where the mother text the other woman demanding the relationship be ended.


Eventually leaving the hospital, the Montgomerys made the drive home with a plan to admit their teenage son to such a psychological facility against his wishes on Monday.


Montgomery testified the admitting clerk at the hospital had informed them their son had admitted to thinking of “strangling us (parents) on the way to the hospital.’’


Montgomery said he never actually heard his son utter such words.


Standridge noted the youth had possession of a duffle bag while travelling to and from the hospital. Electrical cords for phones and other electronic devices were inside, saying the suspect could have used those at any time during the drive had it been his intention to harm his parents.


Returning home, the elder Montgomery gathered a series of collectable knives lying on a table in his son’s room. He said the knives were stored in the couple’s bedroom for further safekeeping. Montgomery said both he and his son collected such knives.


Saying his son would not speak at any time in the car, Montgomery said the family retired to bed immediately. Wade Montgomery slept on the couch while his wife used the couple’s bed.
The following morning, the suspect awakened mid-morning to fix himself a bowl of cereal before eating a sandwich later in the day.


In his testimony, the elder Montgomery defined the next morning as a “normal day.’’


Retiring for the evening on Sunday night, Montgomery said he had been asleep in his room for about an hour when the sound of his wife screaming out his name awakened him.


Barely outside his bedroom door, Montgomery said he was encountered by his son as the struggle began.


“He was all over me,’’ said Montgomery in reference to his son’s aggressive nature.


Montgomery said his son “knocked him up against’’ the entertainment center only to kick the father in the chest.


Asked by Standridge if he ever saw his son holding a weapon, Montgomery said he could not recall, as things had happened so quickly. Saying it was dark through most of the house, Montgomery said he had managed to get on top of his son briefly as the struggle found the men on the father’s bed.


With the mother entering the room, Montgomery said the fight immediately involved all three parties. The father said he instructed his wife to call Marion County E-911 for help.


Sustaining injuries in the struggle, Montgomery said he was uncertain as to the degree of his injuries until the fight had ended and his son had left the house.


Lying near the bed with cuts to his shoulders and what turned out to be a cut to the back of his neck which has since left his right arm useless, Montgomery said he heard his wife scream from the bathroom, “you slit my throat.’’


Montgomery said he did not hear any more fighting after those words.


Later in the question-and-answer exchange, it was noted blood was found by authorities all over the bedroom door.


Attempting to strengthen his argument for self-defense, the attorney pointed out that the suspect must have weighed in the neighborhood of 130 pounds at the time of the fight while his mother weighed 236 pounds, according to the official autopsy.


Standridge suggested it was not possible for the suspect to physically challenge his mother with any success due to the discrepancy in size.


Montgomery said his son reached for a .38-caliber handgun on the closet shelf after he returned to the bedroom. The father said the gun was old and could not be fired. He added there was no ammunition for the weapon inside the family’s manufactured house.


Lying on the floor near the bed with his injuries, Montgomery said he asked his son why he was taking such action.


“I have wanted to do this for a long time,’’ were the words the father heard in return based on his testimony.


“Could he not have killed you had he wanted to as this point?’’ Standridge asked the defendant’s father.


Montgomery said his son grabbed the father’s cell phone and truck keys. The father said he instructed the son to take the vehicle and leave the house.


Saying his entire right side was numb due to his injuries, Montgomery recalled crawling down the hallway to check on his wife. He testified he could not find a pulse. In time, he crawled around her body and into the living room. He said his injuries prevented him from leaving the home in the cold November air to seek help. Dressed only is his underwear, Montgomery wrapped a curtain around his shoulders, raising a nearby window from time to time to scream for help.


Family arrived more than five hours later with medical personnel called to the home. He was later transported by helicopter for further treatment at the University of Alabama Medical Center in Birmingham.


Montgomery was later moved to Spain Rehabilitation in Birmingham where he received treatment “for weeks,’’ according to the defense attorney.

 

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