Adam Montomgery admits guilt to 2 charges, but not to killing Harmony.

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Adam Montgomery chose not to attend the first day of his second-degree murder trial. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH – Adam Montgomery, in a surprise move, admitted his guilt Wednesday to falsifying physical evidence and abuse of a corpse, taking responsibility for part of the crime involving the death of his 5-year-old daughter.

Montgomery, 33, formerly of Manchester, made the admissions in Hillsborough County Superior Court North via a video conference call from the New Hampshire State Prison and out of the presence of the jury.

Montgomery, who declared last August that he loved his daughter unconditionally, did not kill her and looked forward to his upcoming trial to refute “those offensive claims,” did not appear in court Wednesday, the first day of his second-degree murder trial.

“I did not kill my daughter Harmony, and I look forward to my upcoming trial to refute those offensive claims,” he said at his sentencing on armed career criminal and possessing stolen guns charges.   He is serving 32½ to 75 years on those charges from an unrelated case.  He is appealing those convictions.

Montgomery attended jury selection on Tuesday.  But on opening day, only his two public defenders, Caroline L. Smith and James T. Brooks, were at the defense table.

Judge Amy Messer said she found his admissions were knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently given.  She then addressed the issue of him being transported to the courthouse.

“Today you did refuse transport,” she said.  She told Montgomery that she was instructing the sheriff’s department, which does the transports, and the state Department of Corrections that he was to be asked each morning whether he wanted to attend the trial.  If he did, a car would be sent.

 “I am not inclined to send a car to pick you up to have you only refuse,” she said.  “It is our intention to have someone ask you tomorrow morning whether you wish to come tomorrow morning and you have to answer in time for us to have you brought down here. That’s going to be the procedure for tomorrow and each day thereafter unless the court issues another order.”

Montgomery, who was polite in speaking with the judge, said he understood.

Montgomery, 33, still faces charges of second-degree murder, for repeatedly hitting Harmony on Dec. 7, 2019, with a closed fist in a series of three to four strikes in separate incidents; second-degree assault, for allegedly blackening her eye in July 2019; and witness tampering, for attempting to induce Kayla Montgomery, his estranged wife, to testify falsely.

Harmony went missing for two years before authorities learned of her disappearance in late 2021.  Her mother, Crystal Sorey was in rehab when a Massachusetts judge gave custody of Harmony to Adam, despite his violent past.  In late 2021, Sorey told the state Division of Children, Youth and Families that she hadn’t seen her daughter in months.  DCYF notified police resulting in a large-scale search for the missing little girl, which included the F.B.I.

Police said when they contacted Adam Montgomery in December 2021, telling him they were doing a welfare check on Harmony and asked him where she was, he told them, “Right now I have nothing to say.”

The prosecution alleges Montgomery covered up his daughter’s murder for years, placed her remains in a duffle bag and then took them with the family as they moved about the city, which included living in cars, at a family shelter and a Union Street apartment.  At one point, he allegedly stored Harmony’s remains in a walk-in freezer at the Portland Pie Co., an Elm Street restaurant that has since closed.

Wednesday morning 27 potential jurors were whittled down to 17 – 14 women and three men.  At the end of the trial, alternates will be designated.

Opening statements were expected to take place prior to the view but, with the surprise pleadings, the openings were delayed until Thursday.

Prior to the view taking place, Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati and Public Defender Caroline Smith both addressed the jurors, outlining what they would see as they are bused around the city.  They asked them to take note of the surroundings, buildings, street lights and traffic, among other things.  

Smith told the jurors to take in the sidewalks, traffics and areas surrounding the sites.  What they viewed, she said, was an “exhibit for throughout the trial and not just for today.”

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Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg, foreground, and then-Assistant Chief Steve Mangone during a Jan. 3, 2022, news conference regarding the search for Harmony Montgomery. File Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

Agati told them the view was “the beginning of a journey you likely will not forget.”   They are places, he said, where Harmony was first assaulted, later killed and where her remains were crushed.

 On an easel, the prosecutor drew a map of the path the bus would take to the various locations in the city.

The bus was to drive by 20 Market St., the site of a methadone clinic, where Agati said Montgomery brought Harmony on Dec. 7, 2019, and where testimony will indicate he first assaulted her inside the building.

From there, the bus was to head north to Burger King on Daniel Webster Highway.  According to police, the family was in their car, heading to Burger King, when Harmony had a “bathroom accident” and Montgomery repeatedly punched her in the face, ultimately killing her.

The bus will leave Burger King and then head to Colonial Village apartment complex where the family returned after getting food. The apartment complex is the first stop where jurors were to get off the bus to look around.  Agati asked them to note the buildings and the streetlights.

Agati said the bus would pull up between the buildings and head to a rear parking lot near the river where the family lived in a car.  Adam “drove back there eating his food and doing his drugs while Harmony moaned and died,” the prosecutor said.

About 20 minutes later, the family left Colonial Village but the car broke down at Elm and Webster streets, the next stop on the jurors’ view.  When Adam went to get the family’s belongings from the car, he realized Harmony was dead.  Agati told the jurors he got a Duffle bag from the trunk and “stuffed Harmony” in it.  He then carried the duffle bag back to Colonial Village.

 Jurors were to get off the bus at the intersection as well.      

 Agati said a tow truck driver and a gas station attendant will testify about the site.

Up next was the 644 Union St. apartment building, near Orange Street. That is another address where the family lived but it is also the site where prosecutors say Adam used lime in the shower to help with the decomposition of Harmony’s body to reduce her remains in size so they would fit in a small Catholic Medical Center maternity bag.

The other site jurors were asked to take note of was the former site of the Portland Pie Company at the corner of Elm and Merrimack streets 

The judge told the jurors that they were not to return to any of the sites they viewed.

The high-profile trial is being broadcast live by both WMUR and Court TV.  It will resume Thursday at 9 a.m. when openings are anticipated.


 

About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.