NH man convicted of killing daughter, 5, ordered to be at sentencing after skipping trial

Adam Montgomery and his lawyers Caroline Smith and James Brooks watch as potential jurors enter the courtroom for jury selection ahead of his murder trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, N.H, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024.  Montgomery is accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter and spending months moving her body before disposing of it.  (David Lane

Adam Montgomery and his lawyers Caroline Smith and James Brooks watch as potential jurors enter the courtroom for jury selection ahead of his murder trial at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, N.H, on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. Montgomery is accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter and spending months moving her body before disposing of it. (David Lane David Lane—AP

By KATHY McCORMACK

Associated Press

Published: 04-22-2024 12:57 PM

Modified: 04-22-2024 3:16 PM


CONCORD — A judge has ruled that a New Hampshire man convicted of killing his 5-year-old daughter must appear in person for his upcoming sentencing after he didn’t attend his trial.

Adam Montgomery, 34, had attended his first day of jury selection in February, but did not come to court during his two-week trial. Police believe that his daughter, Harmony Montgomery, was killed nearly two years before she was reported missing in 2021. Her body was never found.

Montgomery’s lawyer recently asked for him to be excused from his scheduled May 9 sentencing in Manchester, saying Montgomery has maintained his innocence on charges of second-degree murder, second-degree assault and witness tampering. He had admitted to abuse of a corpse and falsifying evidence.

State law says that in second-degree murder cases, “The defendant shall personally appear in court when the victim or victim’s next of kin addresses the judge, unless excused by the court.”

The attorney general’s office said in March that Harmony Montgomery’s next of kin and others would be addressing the judge at the sentencing, so it was mandatory for Adam Montgomery to show up.

“Although the statute allows the judge to exercise its discretion to excuse a defendant from this obligation, the court does not find that the defendant has raised an adequate factual or legal basis to do so here,” Judge Amy Messer wrote in her order Friday.

Messer wrote that the county sheriff’s office “shall take all necessary steps” to ensure that Montgomery appears in person.

The Montgomery case spurred a bill in the state Legislature requiring people charged with serious crimes to be present for the reading of verdicts and at sentencing hearings. The bill passed in the House and awaits action in the Senate.

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Last year, Montgomery proclaimed his innocence in the death of his daughter, saying in court he loved Harmony Montgomery “unconditionally.” His lawyers suggested that the girl died while she was with her stepmother.

He faces a sentence of 35 years to life in prison on the second-degree murder charge. He’s currently serving a minimum sentence of 32 1/2 years in prison on unrelated gun charges.

The stepmother, Kayla Montgomery, is expected to be released on parole in May after serving an 18-month sentence for perjury. She testified that her husband killed Harmony Montgomery on Dec. 7, 2019, while the family lived in their car. Kayla Montgomery said he was driving to a fast food restaurant when he turned around and repeatedly punched Harmony in the face and head because he was angry that she was having bathroom accidents in the car.

She said he then hid the body in the trunk of a car, in a ceiling vent of a homeless shelter and in the walk-in freezer at his workplace before disposing of it in March 2020.