Judge struggles for date to hold pretrial hearing in Adam Montgomery firearms case

·2 min read

Sep. 7—The father of presumed murder victim Harmony Montgomery will not waive his right to a speedy trial and expects to go before a jury in November to face numerous firearms charges, his lawyers said Wednesday in court.

Adam Montgomery, 32, did not appear in Hillsborough County Superior Court for the brief hearing. The entire hearing was devoted to scheduling one of his two upcoming trials.

During the hearing, Superior Court Judge Amy Messer grew frustrated over how to schedule an hourslong hearing to cover numerous pretrial issues.

Messer said she preferred to hear all the issues on a single day. But as lawyers and Messer checked their schedules, the notion of a daylong hearing grew unlikely. Messer could not come up with dates for a pretrial hearing immediately.

The judge has two months to hold the hearing and issue a written order that resolves the issues.

At present, Messer is scheduled to pick a jury Nov. 7 for a trial on 12 firearms charges.

Public defender Caroline Smith said Montgomery, who has been jailed since January, is committed to the November trial.

"He requests a speedy trial," Smith said.

Montgomery's daughter Harmony went missing in late 2019 when she was 5 years old. She's never been found, and last month authorities reclassified her case as a homicide.

Montgomery faces two sets of charges. One is a relatively minor set of charges dealing with his treatment of Harmony. The other is much more serious — felony firearm charges that could land Montgomery, a convicted felon, in prison for decades.

The charges stem from the theft of two firearms from a Manchester resident named in court documents as CF. They were stolen in the fall of 2019, about the time Harmony went missing.

In court papers filed Tuesday, lead prosecutor Jesse O'Neill outlined part of his case.

"The State anticipates that multiple witnesses will testify that the defendant offered to sell them the stolen firearms for drugs and money, and one witness will testify that he personally observed the defendant sell one of the stolen firearms for drugs," a filing reads.

O'Neill also wrote that if Montgomery's estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, testifies, he may bring up allegations that Adam harmed Harmony.

"The State may seek to introduce this evidence, in the event Kayla Montgomery testifies, to explain her behavior or the lack thereof," the filing reads.

In speaking to reporters, O'Neill described the investigation into Harmony's homicide as strong and active.

Meanwhile, Benjamin Agati, who heads the homicide prosecution unit at the Department of Justice, has joined the case. O'Neill said the office of the attorney general typically has two prosecutors on a case when it goes to trial.

The court system has yet to schedule a trial for Montgomery on charges involving the alleged assault of Harmony, child endangerment and interfering with custody.