Adam Montgomery must appear in court for May 9 sentencing

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Adam Montgomery faces decades in prison after a jury on June 8 found him guilty on several felony gun charges. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – Adam Montgomery is under court order to appear May 9 for his sentencing for beating his 5-year-old daughter to death, then covering up the murder by secreting her remains throughout the city before disposing of them in some unknown location.

The body of Harmony Montgomery has never been found.

Judge Amy Messer, in her April 19, 2024 order, said the Office of the Hillsborough County Sheriff  “shall take all necessary steps to ensure the defendant’s timely appearance at his sentencing hearing scheduled on May 9, 2024 at 1:00 p.m.”

Montgomery, 34, detained in the New Hampshire State Prison for Men, is to be sentenced in Hillsborough County Superior Court North where he was tried and found guilty on Feb. 22, 2023, of second-degree murder, abuse of a corpse, second-degree assault and witness tampering.  He appeared in court only on the first day of jury selection and remained absent from the trial up to and including the day the jury returned its guilty verdicts.

Messer, in her order, wrote said that while state law allows a judge to exercise discretion to excuse a defendant from appearing at sentencing “the Court does not find that the defendant has raised an adequate factual or legal basis to do so here.  The only factual basis the defendant asserts is his contention that he is innocent as to some of the charges.”

Montgomery admitted to the abuse of a corpse offense, a misdemeanor.  The state accused him of repeatedly hitting Harmony in the head because of bathroom accidents in the car where the family was living after being evicted from their home.  

He put her body in a duffel bag and then took the bag with him as the family moved from place to place in the city.  Initially, her remains were kept in a duffel bag, placed in a cooler, hidden in a ceiling vent, a walk-in cooler at a restaurant where he worked, a refrigerator and then an apartment freezer. Over those months, he compressed Harmony’s body so it could fit into a smaller canvas CMC bag.

Investigators found Harmony’s DNA on the same ceiling panel where Montgomery’s palm and fingerprints were also found.  

Messer noted Montgomery was found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, by a jury, to the charges and that he asserts no other factual basis for excusal.

“Additionally, the defendant asserts no legal basis for excusal other than that the statute provides the court with discretion. Were the Court to accept the defendant’s request, it would be tantamount to excusing the defendant’s appearance simply because he did not wish to attend,” Messer wrote.

She said the Court finds that this would “undermine the Legislature’s objective in passing the statute without a compelling basis to do so.”

She also said the State noted in its objection that while the defendant has a right to attend his sentencing hearing, “this does not amount to concomitant right to absent himself from the proceeding.”

In passing RSA 651:4-a, the judge said, the Legislature has made clear that in certain types of cases the defendant should be required to personally appear in court when the victim or victim’s next of kin addresses the court.

Under state law, before a judge sentences an individual for second-degree murder, the victim of the offense, or the victim’s next of kin may appear personally or by counsel and may reasonably express his or her views concerning the offense, the person responsible, and the need for restitution. The defendant, according to the law, “shall personally appear in court when the victim or victim’s next of kin addresses the judge, unless excused by the court.” 

Harmony’s mother Crystal Sorey, who struggled with substance abuse, was in rehab when she lost custody of her daughter to Montgomery.  She is expected to appear at the sentencing.

She has said Adam prevented her from seeing Harmony.  The last time she saw her was over Easter in April of 2019.   Manchester police learned of Harmony’s disappearance in late 2021, nearly two years after the 5-year-old went missing.

On New Year’s Eve 2021, police held a news conference with large posters of Harmony front and center and announced they were searching for the little girl who hadn’t been seen in more than two years.

 In August 2022, authorities announced that Harmony was murdered in 2019 based on “recently confirmed biological evidence.” Ultimately, Montgomery was charged with her murder.

At trial, Kayla Montgomery, Adam’s estranged wife, testified that on Dec. 7, 2019, Adam Montgomery repeatedly struck Harmony in the head for urinating in the car.  Neither Kayla nor Adam checked on the child despite hearing her moans coming from the back seat.  They discovered she had died there hours later when the car broke down and had to be towed, Kayla testified.

In March of 2020, Adam had a friend rent him a U-Haul van and, in the middle of the night and with the CMC bag containing Harmony’s remains, drove down into Massachusetts back and forth across the Tobin Bridge.

When he returned to the EconoLodge where they were staying, he told Kayla, “It’s done.”

He no longer had the CMC bag.

Manchester Police continue to monitor a dedicated tipline for any information leading to the whereabouts of Harmony. That number is 603-932-8997.


 

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About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.