Montague was sentenced to six years in prison for escaping from the correctional facility. He also received two 30-year sentences for kidnapping and taking Thornton hostage. All three sentences will run concurrently, but will begin after the completion of his original sentence. His original sentence ends in July 2020.
Montague’s charges stem from actions on the night of August 16, 2016, when he escaped from the Newberry prison. He made his way to America’s Best Value Inn Motel on M-28 east of Newberry. There, he found Thornton working, and assaulted her. She tried to call 911, but Montague took control of the phone. He used her as a hostage during a standoff with police. She survived.
His trial was delayed until February 2019 for several reasons. A lengthy delay occurred while forensic testing was completed on a knife used during the kidnapping. Montague argued that he did not use the knife and the blood on it was not his. Forensic testing was ordered in December 2017; results came back late in 2018. Montague caused further delays by asking for a change of venue, making motions to dismiss charges, and motions to quash evidence. Each request required the judge to look at the facts of the motions, hear a response by the prosecution, and to make a ruling on each motion.
After his convictions, Montague delayed his November sentencing by arguing the scoring on his pre-sentence report was inaccurate. That argument was addressed in his sentencing hearing on Dec. 17. In a pre-sentence report, points are assigned for each conviction, and previous convictions are also taken into account. Montague’s pre-sentence score indicated he could be sentenced for between 171-570 months (14-47 years) for the minimum sentencing guideline. Judge Carmody determined that Montague was eligible for the 25-year minimum due to the circumstances of his crimes.
At his sentencing, Heather Thornton read a prepared victim impact statement. She said the incident changed her life, and she hasn’t been able to return to work.
“[Before this], I never had a fear of losing my life, or the fear of my child losing a mother,” Thornton said. “You have no concept of your actions.”
Prosecutor Josh Freed stated that a harsh sentence was necessary. Montague’s escape was a community’s worst nightmare: a prison escapee who hurts a civilian. The family needed justice, Freed said, and he recommended a 30-year minimum sentence.
In defense of Montague, Rahilly argued that the 25-year minimum sentence was long enough, as Montague was 19 years old at the time of the crime.
Montague gave a statement to apologize to everyone affected. He said he is a good person. Then he gave a long list of complaints about Rahilly, the minimum sentencing, and his trial.
“You just don’t get it,” Carmody told Montague. “The fear you put into the victim; the time and effort you put into the escape.”
Montague is already attempting to appeal his convictions.