NATIONAL NEWS

New Hampshire man sentenced to minimum 56 years on murder, other charges in young daughter’s death

May 9, 2024, 12:34 PM | Updated: 1:54 pm

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A New Hampshire man convicted of killing his 5-year-old daughter and moving her corpse around for months before disposing of it was sentenced Thursday to a minimum of 56 years in prison on murder and other changes as relatives of the child called him a monster.

That sentence will be added on to the minimum 32 1/2-year sentence Adam Montgomery, 34, began last year on unrelated gun charges, effectively amounting to a life sentence following his actions in the death of Harmony Montgomery. Police believe she was killed nearly two years before she was reported missing in 2021. Her body was never found.

A prosecutor offered to lessen the sentence for the second-degree murder conviction and other charges if Montgomery “tells us right now” the location of his daughter’s remains. Montgomery, who has maintained his innocence in the death of his daughter, did not speak in the Manchester courtroom. His attorney later called the offer a “stunt” and said Montgomery’s silence should not be interpreted as a lack of remorse.

People who knew Harmony Montgomery spoke about the happy, kind child they once knew.

“She had a life worth living, unlike your own,” Crystal Sorey, Harmony’s mother, read from a statement addressing Adam Montgomery, her hands shaking. “And it bothered you to your core that she was nothing like you and everything like me.”

Sorey added, “I will forever look for her until the end of my days. But I hope that every day and every night here on this earth, you hear nothing but my baby’s giggle.”

The parents who adopted Harmony’s brother, now 7, spoke on his behalf. “I’m really sad she’s an angel. I miss her,” they quoted him as saying.

Montgomery did not attend his trial in February. He was ordered by the judge to be in court Thursday after his lawyer asked for him to be excused. Montgomery also had pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree assault and witness tampering. He had admitted to abuse of acorpse and falsifying evidence.

Judge Amy Messer noted that Montgomery had an extensive criminal record that dates back to 2008 and that he had extensive opportunities to change his life.

“Your extreme indifference to the value of human life is seen in so many of your actions,” she said.

Messer said the only way to keep Montgomery from hurting others is to keep him off the streets. “To the extent you seek to rehabilitate yourself, that will have to happen behind the prison walls,” she said.

An email seeking comment on the sentence and asking about a possible appeal was sent to Montgomery’s lawyer, Caroline Smith.

His estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, had testified that her family, including her two young sons with Adam Montgomery, had been evicted right before Thanksgiving in 2019 and were living in a car. She said on Dec. 7, Adam Montgomery punched Harmony Montgomery at several stop lights as they drove from a methadone clinic to a fast food restaurant because he was angry that the child was having bathroom accidents in the car.

After that, she said she handed food to the children in the car without checking on Harmony Montgomery and that the couple later discovered she was dead after the car broke down. She testified that her husband put the body in a duffel bag. She described various places where the girl’s body was hidden, including the trunk of a car, a cooler, a homeless center ceiling vent and the walk-in freezer at her husband’s workplace.

During Adam Montgomery’s trial, his lawyers suggested that Kayla continued to lie to protect herself. They said their client did not kill Harmony, and that Kayla Montgomery was the last person to see the child alive.

Kayla Montgomery testified that she didn’t come forward about the child’s death because she was afraid of her husband. She said Adam Montgomery suspected that she might go to the police, so he began punching her, giving her black eyes, she said. She eventually ran away from him in March 2021.

Kayla Montgomery was recently granted parole. She is expected to be released from prison soon after serving an 18-month sentence. She pleaded guilty to perjury charges related to the investigation into the child’s disappearance and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

“I will forever have a place in my heart for you,” Kayla Montgomery said in a statement read in court on her behalf. But she talked about how their relationship spiraled out of control after Harmony died. “The last couple of nights after you got arrested for the first time, I was sleeping with a knife because I did not know what you were going to do to me,” she wrote, adding, “I’m so angry and hurt by you.”

Adam Montgomery had custody of the girl. Her mother, who was no longer in a relationship with him, said the last time she saw Harmony Montgomery was during a video call in April 2019. She eventually went to police, who announced they were looking for the missing child on New Year’s Eve 2021. Adam and Kayla Montgomery told police that Adam had taken his daughter to live with Sorey in Massachusetts.

Harmony Montgomery’s case has exposed weaknesses in child protection systems and provoked calls to prioritize the well-being of children over parents in custody matters. Harmony was moved between the homes of her mother and her foster parents multiple times before Adam Montgomery received custody in 2019 and moved to New Hampshire.

Authorities plan to keep searching for the girl’s remains, believed to be along a route Adam Montgomery drove in a rental truck into Massachusetts in March 2020. Agati said Thursday that police last went out for a search a couple of weeks ago, but they were not successful.

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New Hampshire man sentenced to minimum 56 years on murder, other charges in young daughter’s death