Adam Montgomery defense seemingly pins daughter’s death on estranged wife in opening statement


Defense attorney Jamie Brooks delivers his opening statement in Adam Montgomery's murder trial. Kayla Montgomery appears in an inset image on the left.

Main image: Defense attorney Jamie Brooks delivers his opening statement in Adam Montgomery’s murder trial; Inset on the left: Kayla Montgomery appears in a booking photo. (Law&Crime Network; Manchester Police Department)

Adam Montgomery, 33, did not kill Harmony Montgomery, 5, but he did help with the cover-up and disposal of her corpse, defense counsel for the father accused of killing his long-missing daughter argued in a Manchester, New Hampshire, courtroom late Thursday morning.

During an explosive opening statement, the accused man’s attorney placed blame for the child’s death at the feet of his client’s estranged wife, Kayla Montgomery, 33, who is slated to testify against him.

“Kayla was an equal participant in the cover-up,” defense attorney Jamie Brooks summed up in the Hillsborough County Court. “She alone knows how Harmony died. And she won’t tell.”

Adam Montgomery stands accused of murder in the second degree for allegedly killing Harmony by “repeatedly striking” her “in the head with a closed fist.” He was also charged with second-degree assault, witness tampering, abuse of a corpse, and falsifying physical evidence. On the first day of his trial, after previously pleading not guilty to all of the charges, the defendant accepted culpability for the abuse of a corpse and falsifying physical evidence charges.

“Adam is not an innocent,” Brooks said. “He and Kayla covered up Harmony’s death. He’s not an innocent here. He and Kayla moved Harmony’s body from place to place to keep it hidden. And Adam is not an innocent here. He and Kayla put her body in a shower to wash her remains of the fluids of decomposition and then permanently hid her remains. You can and should find him guilty of those crimes.”

By casting Adam Montgomery as an admitted member of the cover-up, the defense aims to paint a picture of Kayla Montgomery — the state’s foremost witness in his trial — as a replete liar who stands to gain her freedom if she lies, yet again, to the jury about what happened to Harmony on the day she disappeared in late 2019.

“Kayla was willing to sing for her supper,” Brooks argued. “Not for truth. Not for Harmony. But for Kayla. Kayla was all about protecting herself to wiggle out of accountability for her own conduct.”

In grand jury testimony during the investigation into Harmony’s death and disappearance, Kayla Montgomery lied about working a shift at Dunkin’ Donuts on the last day she claimed to have seen her stepdaughter alive. Employment records later showed that claim to be false. Kayla Montgomery later admitted to perjury in exchange for a plea deal in which prosecutors dropped various other charges against her in exchange for her testimony against her estranged husband.

“It was explained to Kayla that she could choose not to answer a question if it could incriminate her,” Brooks said of the proceedings where Kayla Montgomery perjured herself. “Instead, though, she chose to lie. Under oath. The same oath you’ll see her take later.”

The state has framed Kayla Montgomery’s known lies — which also include lying during two police interviews about when she last saw Harmony — as the product of Adam Montgomery’s witness tampering.

Now, Kayla Montgomery claims her husband beat the girl to death on Dec. 7, 2019. The incident allegedly was precipitated by Harmony having a “bathroom accident” while the family of five was in the Chrysler Sebring they called home following a recent eviction. The exact location was the parking lot of a Burger King, the state claims.

The defense, however, claims Harmony died several days prior. Adam Montgomery “stood by” his wife after he returned home from work one night. On that evening, both the husband and wife “discovered Harmony’s cold, lifeless body” behind the apartment complex where they had been parking their car since being kicked out of their house.

“Kayla made Adam feel responsible,” Brooks said. “She claimed not to know what happened. It was Adam’s fault for everything they were going through. It was not her fault, she insisted. She thought all the kids were asleep. He had to protect her. He had to protect their children. If anyone found out, their children would be taken.”

The pair then agreed to cover up the girl’s death, the defense attorney argued, but did not know what to do, “So they put the decision off.”

The prosecution relayed the order of events that followed as Harmony’s body was, over the course of several months, dismembered and disposed of, in a particularly graphic fashion, during the state’s opening statement earlier on Thursday morning.

Eventually, Kayla Montgomery was thrown in jail for a minor charge related to Harmony’s disappearance and the ensuing investigation.

In January 2022, Kayla Montgomery was arrested “pursuant to an arrest warrant for one charge of Welfare Fraud, a class A felony.” She stands accused of unlawfully obtaining $1,500 in food stamp benefits through a period spanning December 2019 and June 2021 “by failing to remove Harmony Montgomery from [her] family account” with the agency that provides public assistance and by “continuing to collect food stamp benefits for Harmony, despite the fact that Harmony was no longer living with Kayla and Kayla’s husband, Adam Montgomery.” A formal indictment on those theft-related charges soon followed.

The defense framed this development as pivotal.

“She knew that the police thought she had information about what happened to Harmony,” Brooks told the jury. “And she knew that the walls were closing in. Kayla also knew that pointing the finger at Adam was worth something.”

The state, in their opening, sought to paint a picture of Kayla Montgomery as a cowed wife who was beaten and terrorized into lying by her husband — fearful of losing her own life after being the sole adult witness to Harmony’s brutal death.

The defense attorney spent several minutes poring over a note purportedly written by Kayla Montgomery and recovered from her jail cell in an effort to dispel those notions raised by the state.

“She writes of her willingness to, quote, ‘betray Adam,’ not to finally be free of Adam, not to finally be safe from him, not to tell the truth,” Brooks said. “To betray. Meaning: stab him in the back. But she also wrote of her longing to be alone with him — one more time. To kiss. To make love if she could. She didn’t write of fearing to be alone with him. She did not write of any fear that Adam would hurt or kill her for her betrayal. In her fairy tale musings, Adam would understand and protect her until the end. Their children needed their mother.”

All this and more suggests, the defense claims, and as Brooks cited in several pieces of additional evidence that will be discussed throughout the trial, that Kayla Montgomery is not a credible witness.

“Is the witness pulling from a well of true memory?” the defense attorney posed the questions he will seek to remind jurors of as the state’s most important witness testifies. “Or just making it up?”

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