Jury opens deliberations in trial of New Hampshire man accused of killing daughter, 5


CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A prosecutor said Wednesday that a New Hampshire man accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter treated her like a thing he’d broken and needed to throw away. But his lawyer said he wasn’t guilty of her death though he made terrible decisions to hide and move her body to keep his family together.

Jurors heard closing arguments before starting deliberations in the two-week trial of Adam Montgomery on a second-degree murder charge in the case of his daughter, Harmony Montgomery. Police first learned the girl was missing in December 2021 and later said she was killed, though her body was never found.

The jury deliberated for about two hours Wednesday before recessing for the day.

In closing arguments earlier in the day, defense attorney Caroline Smith said Montgomery moved the body and hid it because of “a very misguided belief” he had to do so “to keep his family from being ripped apart.”

But prosecutor Benjamin Agati told jurors a different story. He said Montgomery, 34, was angry that his daughter was having bathroom accidents inside the car they were living in after they were evicted from their home. He said Montgomery punched her in the head until she died.

“All he has is his car, and his rage, and his fists,” Agati said, later adding, “She doesn’t get a headstone in the ground above the head that he battered. She doesn’t get to be at peace and death because of what he did, because he can’t afford to tell anyone where she is.”

Harmony’s mother, Crystal Sorey, cried and at times covered her ears as Agati spoke in court.

Adam Montgomery is serving a 30-year prison sentence for an unrelated gun conviction and has not attended trial. He said in court in an unrelated case last year that he loves Harmony “unconditionally” and did not kill her. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

Montgomery’s attorneys have acknowledged his guilt on two lesser charges, that he “purposely and unlawfully removed, concealed or destroyed” her corpse and falsified physical evidence.

Montgomery also faced charges of assaulting his daughter in 2019 — giving her a black eye — and of tampering with the key prosecution witness, his estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, who is Harmony’s stepmother.

Investigators believe Harmony was murdered in December 2019, though she wasn’t reported missing for nearly two years. Kayla Montgomery testified the body was hidden in the trunk of a car, a cooler, a ceiling vent, and a workplace freezer before Adam disposed of it.

Adam Montgomery had custody of Harmony. Sorey, who was no longer in a relationship with him, said the last time she saw Harmony was on 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.

Photos of Harmony were widely circulated on social media. Police eventually determined she had been killed.

Kayla Montgomery is serving an 18-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to perjury for lying during grand jury testimony about where she was when Harmony was last seen. She was not given immunity, but acknowledged to defense lawyers that she hasn’t faced further consequences for inconsistencies in her statements to police or prosecutors.

Kayla Montgomery testified that her husband repeatedly punched Harmony in the head because the girl had wet herself. She said her family, including the couple’s two young sons, had been evicted and were living in their car. According to Kayla, Adam punched Harmony at several stop lights as they drove from a methadone clinic to a fast food restaurant on the morning of Dec. 7, 2019.

She also testified about handing food to the children without checking on Harmony, the subsequent discovery that Harmony was dead, and the places her husband hid the body, including in a ceiling vent at a homeless shelter and the walk-in freezer at his workplace.

Kayla testified her husband drove away with Harmony’s remains in a rental truck in March 2020, and that he didn’t say where he was going. Not long after that, he started to suspect 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.

Toll data shows the truck crossed a major bridge in Boston multiple times. Last year, police searched a marshy area in Revere, Massachusetts, without finding Harmony’s body.

Adam Montgomery’s attorneys said that the only person who knew how Harmony died — Kayla — was lying. They said that Harmony actually died the night before Kayla said she did, and that Kayla was alone with her at the time.

“She was an instigator and equal partner,” Smith said. “He did not influence her. She influenced him, and most importantly, he did not kill his daughter.”

But Agati described Kayla as “a battered woman admitting an inconvenient and terrible truth that she failed in a moment of life when her character was put to the test. She did nothing to help Harmony, nothing to stop her. She didn’t kill her. Only the defendant did that.”

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