Adam Montgomery’s defence has pinned the blame on his estranged wife Kayla Montgomery for the death of his five-year-old daughter.
Montgomery, 34, is facing trial in Manchester, New Hampshire, over the December 2019 murder of his daughter Harmony Montgomery.
In a surprise move shortly after jury selection concluded on Tuesday, Montgomery said he intended to plead guilty to two lesser charges of abuse of a corpse and falsifying information in connection with Harmony’s killing.
On Thursday, Montgomery’s lawyer gave a dramatic preview of the line of defence they will be pursuing throughout the trial. During the opening statement, attorney James Brooks claimed that it was Kayla Montgomery, his client’s estranged wife and Harmony’s stepmother, who last saw the little girl alive.
Mr Brooks went on to say that Kayla Montgomery had created a web of lies to put the blame on her husband and that Adam Montgomery had merely agreed to destroy evidence to “protect” his wife and keep custody of their young children.
“He’s not innocent here. He and Kayla moved the body to keep it hidden. You should find him guilty on those charges,” Mr Brooks told jurors. “Adam Montgomery did not kill Harmony ... Kayla Montgomery was the last person to see Harmony alive and knows how Harmony died.”
He said Harmony, Adam Montgomery, Kayla Montgomery and the couple’s two infants had been living in a car after being evicted from their home in December 2019. The family was living in their car and Montgomery was doing odd jobs in order to earn quick money, Mr Brooks claimed.
It was during one of those instances in which Kayla Montgomery was left alone with the children in the car that Harmony died, Mr Brooks alleged. The prosecution had previously suggested during their opening statements that Harmony died after her father repeatedly hit her in the head because she had soiled herself.
The state argued that Kayla Montgomery didn’t come forward with information sooner because she was being abused and “terrorised” by her husband.
“Harmony did not die in that intersection you saw yesterday,” Mr Brooks told the court. “Both Adam Montgomery and Kayla found Harmony’s body in the middle of the night after he returned from work at Colonial Village Aparmtents.”
The defence said Kayla Montgomery did not tell Adam Montgomery how Harmony died, but that he went on with a plan to destroy Harmony’s remains in order to “protect” his family. The couple then put off the decision to dispose of the body because they didn’t know what to do, Mr Brooks said.
“He had to protect [Kayla]. He had to protect their children,” Mr Brooks said. “If anyone found out, her children would be taken.”
The defence then introduced a prison letter allegedly written by Kayla Montgomery after she was arrested on theft charges for colleting welfare benefits for the missing child between December 2019 and June 2021. In the letter, she allegedly wrote the things she wanted in exchange for “betraying Adam.”
Among the things she reportedly requested were “immunity from everything, all charges she was facing ... maybe ankle bracelent, or probation or drug rehab, kids in my life, not lose custody and have kids live with me.”
“She also wrote of her longing to be alone with him, one more time,” Mr Brooks said. “To kiss, to make love. She did not write of any fear ... not to finally be safe from Adam.”