Adam Montgomery’s trial on gun offenses to open next week

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Adam Montgomery, 33, is brought out of a courtroom following a hearing on motions filed in his upcoming trial on gun charges.Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH — Adam Montgomery wants a judge to allow him unlimited access to Grand Jury transcripts of witnesses expected to testify next week at his trial on gun-related charges.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Ben Agati objected to the request at a hearing Tuesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District.  He doesn’t want grand jury testimony floating around the Valley Street jail where Montgomery, 33, is detained.  

Agati said the defense has had the transcripts, which fill a three-inch high binder, for months and Montgomery, 33, had the opportunity to review them with his attorneys or an investigator during that time frame.

Public Defender Caroline Smith argued that the transcripts are being used at trial and should be treated like any police report or affidavit. She said she would agree to Montgomery having the transcript the day before trial and bringing it back to court the following morning.

The Grand Jury transcripts contain the testimony of six witnesses including Kayla Montgomery, Montgomery’s estranged wife; Kimberly Frain, the wife of Christopher Frain, whose guns were stolen, and Ismael Rivera, presumably “Ismael Garcia” who is identified in court documents as an individual who sold Frain’s stolen .380-caliber handgun. Police recovered the gun in an apartment in Dorchester, Mass.

The defense said Christopher Frain told police that on Sept. 29, 2019, he went shooting with his Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun and Stag AR-15 rifle and on returning, placed them under his bed. The .380-caliber Ruger handgun was in a drawer along with another gun.  He left his home that day and returned on Oct. 3, 2019, to discover the weapons missing.  

Smith said Frain told police he believed his wife sold or traded the guns for drugs.  At the time he reported the guns missing, he also reported other items missing as well, including his wife’s wedding ring.  It turned out that Kimberly Frain pawned the ring in August 2019, according to court records.

The state maintains that Montgomery stole the guns, witnesses will attest to that and to his selling the shotgun and rifle.   The theft of the other handgun is irrelevant, prosecutors said, because Montgomery was never charged with that offense.

Judge Amy Messer told the attorneys to come to an agreement by Thursday or she would issue an order on the issue.

The attorneys, with Montgomery present, also argued about other evidence they want to present or keep out of Montgomery’s trial. 

Montgomery is being tried on two counts of being an armed career criminal, armed career criminal with lesser included offenses of felon in possession and two counts of receiving stolen property with alternate charges of theft.

He is facing decades in prison if convicted of being an armed career criminal and the other charges.

The charges are unrelated to the killing of his 5-year-old daughter Harmony.  He is charged with second-degree murder in Harmony’s death, among other charges including witness tampering accusing him of a more than a two-year attempt to get Kayla Montgomery to falsely testify.  She later pleaded guilty to two counts of perjury related to the investigation into Harmony’s death.

Smith said she intends to use those convictions to attack Kayla Montgomery’s credibility. Assistant Attorney General R. Christopher Knowles maintains Kayla Montgomery lied because she feared Montgomery, who was abusing her.

Kayla, he said, documented the abuse.  He provided the court with a photograph of Kayla with two blackened eyes.

Judge Messer pressed Knowles on whether Kayla Montgomery would testify she lied because she feared her husband.  He said Kayla, in a third interview with police in March 2023, detailed the abuse she endured.  Adam Montgomery, he said, was saying, “You’re telling on me.  You’re going to put me in prison.  You’re out to kill me. You’re cheating on me.”

Knowles said he expects that if Kayla Montgomery is questioned about why she lied, that she would testify she was fearful. 

Smith said the abuse occurred more than a year before her grand jury testimony.   

Jury selection begins on Wednesday, May 31.  As part of voir dire (the questioning of potential jurors), the judge will tell the jury the matter regarding Harmony Montgomery is not in front of them.  Still, Messer will say she needs to know if anything they have read or heard about the investigation will affect them sitting as a juror on the guns case.

“If you feel that you have been affected by the coverage regarding Harmony Montgomery, or that you have developed an opinion regarding that investigation, or that you have thoughts or feelings about Mr. Montgomery based on what you have heard about the investigation, I need to know,” Messer will tell the panel.

If the answer is yes, a member of the panel must raise their hand and approach the bench to discuss it. The answer could result in the person being excused from the jury.



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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.