Adam Montgomery asks to sever assault case from murder trial

Posted at 3:58 PM, January 16, 2024 and last updated 6:04 PM, January 16, 2024

MANCHESTER, N.H. (Court TV) — With just weeks to go until his murder trial is scheduled to begin, Adam Montgomery has asked the court to sever charges of killing his daughter from charges he assaulted her.

Adam Montgomery reacts to verdict

Adam Montgomery reacts as the jury’s verdict is read in his weapon’s trial Thursday, June 8, 2023. (Court TV)

Montgomery, who was convicted on unrelated weapons charges last year, is charged with second-degree assault of his daughter as well as her murder. Harmony was 5 years old in 2019 when she was allegedly murdered, but she was not reported missing for nearly two years. Her body has never been found.

Montgomery refused to be transported from jail to appear in custody on Tuesday. His attorney agreed to proceed with the hearing in his absence.

While the assault charge and homicide charges had been joined ahead of Montgomery’s trial, scheduled to begin on Feb. 6, his attorneys have filed a motion asking for the two cases to be severed. Montgomery’s attorney, Caroline Smith, told the judge on Tuesday, “We have become aware of a strategy by the state that I believe would be unfair to Mr. Montgomery.”

MORE: Adam Montgomery wants lime, grinder banned from murder trial evidence

While Senior Asst. Attorney General Ben Agati responded, saying that while he believes the cases should remain joined he also thinks that Montgomery has the right to revisit the issue. “The information that’s disclosed is not new information with regards to what the allegations are,” Agati told the judge. It’s been provided in discovery sometimes 14, sometimes 22 months ago. That being said, if the defendant is now reassessing his desire to have the motions joined — which is what he wanted before, what we’ve been planning on this entire time — if he wants to readdress that I think he has the right to readdress that.”

Lawyers appear in court

Lawyers appear in court to discuss issues ahead of Adam Montgomery’s scheduled trial. (Court TV)

The trial is currently scheduled from Feb. 6-29, and prosecutors said they believe that even if the charges are severed both cases could be heard within the time frame. Agati specified that, if severed, the assault charge would be heard first because Montgomery has been in custody on that charge since Jan. 2022.

The judge was unwilling to make a decision and reserved issuing a ruling. She also said that she would be issuing rulings in the next week regarding other outstanding issues, including questions of whether evidence of lime and a grinder would be admitted at trial.

If the charges are severed, the judge will then need to determine whether both juries would be chosen from the same pool, as the prosecution would prefer, or whether there would be separate ones, as the defense has requested.

Agati told the judge that the prosecution has pared down its witness list and now plans to call 50-55 witnesses, not including those potentially needed for rebuttal or impeachment.

Court TV will be in the courtroom when the trial starts to bring you live coverage.