State says Mongomery stole long guns; defense points finger at gun owner’s wife citing trade for drugs

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Adam Montgomery enters the courtroom for the first day of his trial on weapons charges at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on June 1, 2023. Media Pool Photo/David Lane

MANCHESTER, N.H. — State prosecutors ran after a witness Thursday after a lunch break was called in the trial of Adam Montgomery, apparently concerned she might not return to court to complete her testimony.

Prior to Assistant New Hampshire Attorneys General Ben Agati and Chris Knowles barreling down the stairs of Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District and running south on Chestnut Street to catch up to Kimberly Frain, Judge Amy Messer had told Frain she was still under oath and needed to return to court after the lunch break.  Frain, who had left the stand and was heading out the courtroom door when the judge called out to her, called back over her shoulder that she understood.

Agati and Knowles apparently weren’t so certain, hence the race to catch up to her. After a brief talk with her, the two prosecutors walked back to the courthouse and Frain got into an SUV which drove off.

When court resumed at 1:25 p.m., Frain was back on the stand continuing her cross-examination by Public Defender Caroline Smith.

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Attorney Christopher Knowles hands Kim Frain evidence to look at during the weapons charges trial against Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on June 1, 2023. Media Pool Photo/David Lane

In the fall of 2019, Montgomery, a convicted felon three times over, stole three guns from the house of a friend, with whom he did drugs, Agati contended in his opening statement.  Soon after the guns were reported stolen, Agati said Montgomery was shopping them around.

Smith, however, had a vastly different version of what happened:  She contended the guns were traded by the owner’s wife – Kimberly Frain — to her drug dealer, identified in court as Ismael Garcia.  Adam, who also knew Garcia, never had possession of the guns; he was helping Garcia sell them. 

Montgomery, 33, the man accused of killing his 5-year-old daughter in 2019, is being tried on two counts each of being an armed career criminal, theft by unauthorized taking and receiving stolen property.  The charges are unrelated to his daughter’s death.

However, as police were investigating the whereabouts of Harmony, who was missing for almost two years before law enforcement learned of her disappearance, they also began looking into the missing guns case from years earlier.  

Gun owner Chris Frain, the first witness to take the stand, testified he reported three guns missing from his Russell Street home in 2019:  a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun with a scope, a Stag Arms AR-15 with an optic sight with an electronic red dot, and a .380-caliber Ruger handgun. He told police he saw the guns in his home on Sept. 29, 2019 shortly before he left town for a construction job in New York, and that when he returned home on Oct. 3, 2019, they were gone.

Agati showed the AR-15, which was in a box, to the jury.  Police found it soon after the theft.  The .380-caliber Ruger was recovered in an apartment in Dorchester, Mass.   The shotgun remains missing.

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Senior Assistant Attorney General Benjamin Agati shows the jury an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle which was in evidence at the weapons charges trial against Adam Montgomery at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on June 1, 2023. On the stand testifying is state’s witness, Chris Frain, at left. Media Pool Photo/David Lane


Frain’s watch, silver wedding band and speakers were also missing. When police spoke with him and his wife, Kimberly Frain, she said no one had been in the home while her husband was away and that all the items, guns included, must have been stolen.  Later, police learned she had pawned her husband’s wedding band two months earlier.

Kimberly Frain was the second witness. She testified she went to the pawn shop to get it back six days after she pawned it but was a day late. She had pawned the $1,000 ring for $50.

Frain proved a troublesome witness for both the prosecution and the defense.  When she first took the stand, her face was covered with a surgical mask. Immediately, the attorneys approached the bench and, thereafter, Frain removed it.

 Knowles asked her why she was wearing the mask and she said she worked in the medical field where she wears one every day.   She said she did not want to be testifying and that she did not want her co-workers, friends and new friends to know about her past life.  “I moved away from Manchester to get away from it all,” she said.

In 2019, she worked at Dunkin’ Donuts on Beech Street with Kayla and Adam Montgomery.  Both she and Kayla were pregnant.

At the time the guns were stolen, she said she was in a bad state.

“It wasn’t a good time in my life,” she said. In 2019, she and her husband didn’t get along, both were “doing bad things” and she was doing drugs – heroin, cocaine and crack.  She hung around with Kayla and Adam Montgomery, Ismael Garcia, “Manny,” Michael Sullivan, among others.

She now has been sober for three years after attending rehab and after a year of out-patient care.

The night of Oct. 2, 2019, Frain said she called Adam and asked him to come over to her house.  Both were trying to score drugs but hadn’t.  She said she’d been up for three days – “that’s what drugs do to you, keep you awake”– and she was tired.  She last remembers seeing Adam, who was sitting in a chair and looking tired,  before falling asleep on the couch.

The next morning, Adam was gone, the back door was wide open and there was a crack pipe on the kitchen table with some crack in it.   “It was weird because we didn’t do any drugs that night,” Frain said.

When her husband came home that night, he went to clean his guns because he was going target shooting the following day.  That’s when he discovered them missing.  While the .380 handgun was gone from his dresser drawer where he kept it, the more expensive .45 caliber handgun was there.

He was angry and was throwing things around, Frain said.

On Oct. 4, 2019, he filed a report with Manchester police.   Filing the report was the worst thing that could happen, Kimberly Frain said.

“DCYF got involved,” she said.  “They tried to take my daughter away. It was a nightmare.”

She said when police arrived at their house, she wasn’t home but her husband called to say they wanted to talk to her.  She returned home and talked with them.  Frain didn’t tell them that Adam Montgomery had been at her home. 

“I didn’t tell police about Adam because I really didn’t think a friend would do something like that,” she said.   “I literally thought we got robbed.  It’s Manchester.  It’s bad.”

She began to suspect Montgomery after talking with Mike Sullivan, someone she did drugs with and who was a friend of Garcia’s.  Suspecting that Adam may have taken the guns, she told Kayla Montgomery that neighbors had cameras – a lie, she said – because she wanted to see her reaction.    “Her answer was which way did the cameras point,” Frain testified.

She said Adam Montgomery knew about the AR-15 because she told him about it once while at the mall.

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Adam Montgomery sits with his lawyers on the first day of his trial on weapons charges at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on June 1, 2023. Media Pool Photo/David Lane

In December 2019, she was arrested for drugs.  Police found her asleep in her car at a gas station with drugs in her lap.  Those charges were later dropped on condition she went to rehab.

Initially when she talked to a police officer, she denied pawning her husband’s ring but later admitted to it.  She said she did not sell, trade or loan out any of the guns reported stolen.  She said twice, before the theft, she had loaned the handguns to Garcia but got them back.

Under cross-examination by Smith, Frain said she told prosecutors just last week that she loaned the .380-caliber handgun to Garcia in exchange for drugs and only when her husband was out of town.  She also loaned him her car from time to time and he wasn’t always good at bringing it back.  She let him get away with it though, because she didn’t want to lose her drug connection.

Garcia, who is known as “Ish,” was one of her drug dealers she said.  Asked if Ish had her car that night, she said, “No idea.”

Asked when did she lend Ish her .45-caliber handgun, Frain said, “I don’t remember when.  I’m just putting that out there because I don’t know.”

She said she doesn’t know if Ish knew about the other guns in the house.

Smith used Frain’s grand jury testimony to attack her credibility.  She told the grand jury that she thought Ish knew about the guns because he was a friend.

 Frain said in the fall of 2019, she kept the .45-caliber handgun with her in the car.  She said she doesn’t remember putting it back in the dresser.  

So, Smith said, somehow or other that .45 got into the drawer after the .380-caliber gun was taken.

Frain, however, said that dresser drawer was filled with items and that her husband would bury the guns in the back of it so someone wouldn’t necessarily have seen it.

When Smith pressed her on why she didn’t tell the police initially that Montgomery was at her home, she said she didn’t think it was necessary.  “I always told the truth,”she said.  “My thinking was I never even thought Adam would do that so I don’t think it was necessary to say if I had a friend over. Who cares?”


 

 

 

 

 

The charges are unrelated to Harmony’s murder.  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 his estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, to falsely testify. 

  

 

 

One of those witnesses is Kayla Montgomery, who is serving a sentence for two counts of perjury.  She lied to a grand jury investigating the disappearance and ultimate murder of her step-daughter.

Kayla Montgomery, who has filed for a divorce, is expected to testify next week.

The judge issued an “omnibus order” last Friday on pending motions.  Most were favorable to the defense although prosecutors will be allowed to admit evidence of Montgomery’s past abuse of Kayla Montgomery.  She is expected to testify that from February 2020 onward that Montgomery became very aggressive toward her, that he punched her in the face a couple of times and that she was afraid of him and that he had the ability to cause serious injury to her.

Prosecutors said admitting the history of abuse would explain the difference between Kayla’s anticipated testimony at trial and prior statements she made in March and May 2022 to the grand jury.  Specifically, Kayla told the police and the grand jury that she had never seen Adam Montgomery in possession of firearms at their house.  About a month later, she told police she had seen him in possession of a shotgun and a rifle shortly after the theft occurred.

Kayla is expected to testify that she made the false statements due to the abuse and conditioning she allegedly suffered at the hands of her husband. 

The defense maintains it was more than a year after the alleged abuse that Kayla testified before the grand jury.  At the time she testified, she was no longer in a relationship with Montgomery.  And, at the grand jury, she was specifically asked if she was afraid of Montgomery at that time and she said no.

The judge is allowing the defense to impeach Kayla on grounds “of the staleness of the abuse in question” and her grand jury statement that she was “not afraid of the defendant.” 

While Kayla may testify about the abuse, prosecutors cannot submit a photograph of Kayla Montgomery with two black eyes.

The defense also will be allowed to admit evidence of an alternative suspect in the theft of the guns, given what was reported to police, and one of the stolen guns later being recovered in a home in Dorchester, Mass.   The state argued testimony about the third gun was irrelevant since Montgomery wasn’t charged in connection with it.

The gun charges relate to a theft of firearms, reported on Oct. 3, 2019, from the home of Kimberly and Chris Frain in Manchester.

Chris Frain reported three firearms missing:  a Mossberg 12-gauge shotgun, a Stag AR-15, and a .380-caliber Ruger handgun.   He told police he saw the guns on Sept. 29, 2019 shortly before he left town, and that when he returned home on Oct. 3, 2019, they were gone.

Kimberly Frain told police her silver wedding band was missing as well. Her husband told investigators he thought his wife might have sold or traded the ring for drugs. She denied that and said it must have been stolen. Police later learned she had pawned it on Aug. 5, 2019. 

The missing .380 was found in Omari Peterson’s possession.  He said he received it from Ismael Garcia, who did drugs with Kimberly Frain, according to court records.  Michael Sullivan testified Garcia told him he obtained two of the missing firearms from Kimberly Frain in an exchange for drugs.

Messer said she agreed with the defense that the evidence regarding the ring directly bears on Kimberly’s credibility and is probative of her character for truthfulness or untruthfulness.

Montgomery faces decades in prison if convicted of being an armed career criminal and the other charges.

The trial is expected to last five to seven days.  Next Tuesday, Judge Messer is presiding over drug court so the trial will be suspended that day.

 

 

 

 

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About this Author

Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.