Verdict: Montoya guilty of murder
February 5, 2016
DeAngelo Montoya, 18, was convicted of murder for the second time Friday afternoon.
The Portales teen was accused of shooting and killing Portales college student Angel Vale, 21, in July 2010 when he was 13 years old.
After being convicted of first-degree murder in 2011 and that conviction being overturned last year by the Supreme Court, Montoya returned to trial this week. A jury found him guilty Friday of second-degree murder, aggravated burglary, larceny and tampering with evidence.
District Judge Drew Tatum sentenced the teenager to finish out his previous sentence in the custody of a Children, Youth and Families facility until the age of 21.
For the first time since Vale’s death almost six years ago, Montoya made a statement to her family members Friday afternoon after the verdict was delivered.
“I can’t imagine what you and your family have been going through,” Montoya said to members of the victim’s family. “But I just hope that one day, you guys will understand that whatever had happened that day, I do not wish that upon anybody. Whatever my involvement with it was, I’m terribly sorry.”
“I do hope and pray for your family, because I understand, and it is also hard for me and my family to go through this same thing,” he added. “I do hope that you will all forgive me.”
Not a single person in the courtroom appeared to be lacking in emotion at the end of the trial. Defense Attorney Chris Christensen told those in the courtroom that in all his years as an attorney, “I have never had a case that has eaten at me like this one has,” while Tatum referred to the case as “one of the most disturbing and tragic cases I have been involved with in my years on the bench.”
Vale’s aunt, Grace Sanchez, spoke on behalf of the family for the disposition.
Sanchez and other family members sobbed as Sanchez recounted the story of Vale’s mother, Sandra, being killed in a car accident two and a half years after Vale’s death. She was on her way to Lubbock because she “just had to get away,” according to Sanchez, who also said the accident also severely burned Vale’s 12-year-old brother.
“If she had not been going through the devastation of her daughter’s murder, perhaps she would not have felt the need to get away, looking for some peace and comfort in her life,” Sanchez said. “DeAngelo will have a second chance to live the life that he chooses to live. He took that chance from Angel, a beautiful girl that thrived on and strived to help others. When DeAngelo took Angel’s life, he deeply wounded her entire family. Those wounds are still there.”
“One day, when I was talking to Angel’s mom, she told me that she forgave DeAngelo,” Sanchez added. “We ask that he at least serve out the maximum sentence allowed by the law. We feel this is a very, very small price to pay for taking Angel’s life.”
Montoya’s family could not be found for comment.
In closing arguments Friday morning, Deputy District Attorney Brian Stover chronologically took jury members through the five-day period leading up to Vale’s death, highlighting the various pieces of evidence found.
Stover pointed out that Vale’s fiancé, Edward Lucero, testified that the south side door to their home at the time did not latch or lock properly and could have been opened easily and that Vale had cleaned their home right before they left for a weekend trip the weekend before Vale’s death.
He highlighted the couple returning to find things in their home had been tampered with, but nothing of value had been taken.
“Who does that?” Stover asked jury members. “A 13-year-old boy, bored, no other kids, no supervision.”
“She (Vale) is scared,” added Stover. “She tells her friends she’s scared. Novice Lowman (Vale’s neighbor) knows she (Vale) is not just scared; she’s scared of DeAngelo Montoya.”
Stover also made mention of the following:
• Montoya’s mother, Bianca Montoya, testified that Montoya woke her from a nap a couple of days prior to the murder to ask her if she had heard the gunshots outside.
• Footprints with the same tread as Montoya’s shoes were found all over Vale’s backyard and plastic cups with his DNA were found in Vale’s backyard shed.
• The dumpsters were emptied the day before Vale’s murder, then the night of her murder, items from her house were found in them, some with Montoya’s fingerprints.
• Maintenance man Randy Chavez testified that he saw Montoya come from the area where Vale’s body was found less than a minute after he heard three “pops,” which sounded like fireworks.
“There is nobody else in the area,” Stover told jurors. “There is nobody else around ... And here’s DeAngelo Montoya coming from the area.”
Christensen told jurors in his closing arguments that Montoya’s fingerprints not being anywhere in or on Vale’s house didn’t add up.
Christensen also pointed out that Lucero said in his testimony that they double-checked the side door when they left town to make sure it was locked and secured.
He also pointed out that with the multiple bullet casings found around Vale’s backyard shed, no one testified to hearing or reporting to police that they heard gunshots before the day of Vale’s death.
Christensen said TredSafe shoes, such as what Montoya had been wearing the day of Vale’s death, were common shoes.
“We don’t know what kind of shoes Robert (Crawford) wore. We don’t know what kind of shoes Joyce (Crawford) wore,” Christensen said, referencing the testimony of Vale’s landlord, Robert Crawford, who said he used the backyard sheds for storage.
“Other than the cups, the only identifiers found with his (Montoya’s) finger marks were found in the dumpster. It’s called dumpster diving, folks.”
Christensen also questioned why the tread from Montoya’s shoes was not found near the body of the victim.
In his rebuttal, Stover pointed out the following:
• There is no evidence that TredSafe shoes are common, and Montoya’s footprints were not found in the dirt near Vale’s body, because it was rainy season at the time in eastern New Mexico.
“They didn’t find shoe impressions from anyone (in that area),” Stover pointed out.
• “If the child is dumpster diving, he’s going into the dumpster to see if there’s anything he wants,” Stover said. “Then why would he leave it there ... It doesn’t make sense.”
Christensen had also called Montoya’s lack of DNA on items into question with Stover rebutting that DNA on items was clearly destroyed by rain between the time of the murder (about 3 p.m.) and the time items were found in the dumpster (around midnight).