Las Vegas Sun

November 19, 2017

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Hearing delayed in August carjacking case that left 2 dead

James Robert Montgomery

James Robert Montgomery

A preliminary hearing for the man accused of stealing a California Highway Patrol officer’s pickup and subsequently killing the officer and his brother-in-law has been delayed a second time to give his attorneys more time to prepare his defense.

James Montgomery, 29, Tustin, Calif., appeared today in Las Vegas Township Court, where a status check was scheduled for Nov. 4. A new preliminary hearing date could be set at that time.

Montgomery is charged with murder, kidnapping, grand-theft auto, burglary, robbery and driving under the influence in an Aug. 18 incident that left California Highway Patrolman Jesus Manuel Magdaleno Jr. and Felix Brandon Cruz III dead.

Montgomery’s attorneys waived their client’s right to a speedy trial in August after charges were added alleging that Montgomery was drunk at the time of the incident.

Michael Becker, an attorney for Montgomery, has said the defense planned to carefully review surveillance footage to study Montgomery’s movements.

Montgomery, a Whole Foods employee, may have been drugged, Becker has said.

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.

Montgomery’s blood alcohol level was .197, more than twice the legal limit, at the time of the wreck, prosecutor Michael Staudaher said.

Becker 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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