By MEAD GRUVER Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Supreme Court on Monday upheld a much longer prison sentence than prosecutors recommended for a man who pleaded no contest to killing and dismembering two other men.
It was one of the grislier crimes in Wyoming in recent memory, with authorities discovering foul-smelling, decomposing body parts in a pickup truck near a Gillette intersection in 2016.
The high court ruled that a prosecutor didn’t violate a plea deal with Michael Montano by calling him a “monster” and making other derogatory statements at his sentencing in Gillette.
The statements showed that the prosecution didn’t stand by the plea agreement “in spirit,” Montano’s attorney, Kurt Infanger, said after Campbell County District Judge Michael N. Deegan handed down the sentence in April 2018.
The plea agreement, however, didn’t prohibit the prosecutor, Campbell County Chief Deputy Attorney Nathan Henkes, from commenting on the presentence investigation report or the evidence against Montano, noted the Supreme Court in a ruling written by Justice Kate Fox.
“There was no effort to persuade the court to reject the recommendation,” Fox wrote.
Prosecutors had recommended Montano, in exchange for pleading no contest to killing and dismembering Jody Fortuna, 37, and Phillip Brewer, 33, serve 51.5 years in prison. Montano would serve 51.5 years for each of two counts of second-degree murder and 2.5 years on each of two counts of mutilating a human body, with the sentences to be served concurrently.
Deegan instead sentenced Montano to 125 years in prison: 60 years on each of murder count and 2.5 years on each mutilation count, with the time served consecutively.
Kirk Morgan with the State Public Defender’s Office, which represented Montano before the Supreme Court, declined to comment. Infanger didn’t return messages seeking comment.
Montano’s girlfriend, Kylee Collins, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to two counts of interference with a peace officer for not telling police that Montano hid the bodies.
The victims, who were childhood friends of Montano, died from gunshot wounds. It took Montano two days to cut up the bodies, prosecutors said.
Investigators found the body parts in Montano’s truck and a storage locker.
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