Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Crime and courts:

Grand jury indicts suspect accused in deaths of California lawman, brother-in-law

James Robert Montgomery

James Robert Montgomery

A Clark County grand jury today indicted the man accused of carjacking a California Highway Patrol officer’s pickup at a Las Vegas Strip hotel and getting into an accident that subsequently killed the officer and his brother-in-law.

The indictment charges James Montgomery, 29, Tustin, Calif., with two counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping, two counts of robbery, grand-theft auto, robbery and driving under the influence causing death in an Aug. 18 incident that left California Highway Patrolman Jesus Manuel Magdaleno Jr. and Felix Brandon Cruz III dead.

With the indictment, Montgomery’s case now moves from Las Vegas Township Justice Court to Clark County District Court.

Michael Becker, an attorney for Montgomery, has said Montgomery may have been drugged.

Metro Police gave this sequence of events in Montgomery’s arrest report:

Magdaleno and Cruz, in Las Vegas for Magdaleno’s bachelor party, were loading luggage into the patrolman’s truck at the Flamingo on Aug. 18 when Montgomery got behind the wheel and drove off.

Magdaleno ran after the truck and jumped in the cargo bed with Cruz, but Montgomery continued driving.

Montgomery sped through three red lights on the Interstate 15 overpass before smashing into an SUV in front of the Rio. The impact threw Magdaleno and Cruz from the bed of the pickup. Magdaleno died at the scene; Cruz died days later after being transported to University Medical Center.

The indictment says Montgomery's blood-alcohol level was above the threshold for DUI. Additionally, the indictment says Montgomery was under the influence of marijuana.

Becker has said that while he thought evidence would reveal his client was drinking, the entire incident was out of character and had shocked those close to Montgomery, who doesn’t have a violent past and was in Las Vegas on a spontaneous vacation with his girlfriend.

Montgomery remains in the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

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