During the first day of trial, prosecutors portrayed a 13-year-old accused of murdering a 21-year-old college student last summer as a loner and critical thinker who shot the young woman three times.
Defense attorney Chris Christensen reserved the right to make his opening argument later.
DeAngelo Montoya of Portales is charged with murdering Angel Vale in her yard during the afternoon of July 22, 2010, after breaking into her home more than once.
In his opening argument, District Attorney Matt Chandler said Vale and her fiance, Edward Lucero, left their home in the 1200 block of North Avenue A to visit family and friends in Roswell for the weekend July 16. When they returned, Chandler said, they found several items out of place but valuables still there.
Vale and Lucero decided to move July 19.
“She was scared,” Chandler said.
July 22, he said, Vale moved belongings to a new apartment while Lucero worked in Clovis. That afternoon, Vale returned to the North Avenue A residence and saw Montoya near the storage shed where he’d been target practicing with Lucero’s .22-caliber rifle and storing the “trophies” taken from their house, Chandler said.
Vale tried to run, Chandler said. He said Montoya shot her in the mouth, then in the neck as she crouched on the ground and a third time in the body cavity, through her arm pit as she raised her arm in self defense.
A handyman heard pops, looked around and saw Montoya pacing around the property, Chandler said.
Montoya disposed of various property from Vale and Lucero’s home, including the gun and bullets, in two trash containers in the alley, Chandler said.
The day after Vale’s death, Montoya refused to admit he’d been in her yard or her house until presented with evidence that indicated otherwise, Chandler said.
Montoya’s DNA was on a partially-drunk bottle of alcohol, and his fingerprints were on ammunition for the gun that killed Vale and a DVD from her house, Chandler said. Investigators found a partial print that doesn’t eliminate Montoya as a suspect on the gun.
“To investigators, DeAngelo made one thing abundantly clear: that he was unwilling to tell the truth and he didn’t want to get caught,” Chandler said.
Witnesses and testimony included:
• Portales Police Patrol Sgt. Kane Wyatt, the first officer on the scene.
Wyatt said he and another officer searched the house, yard and multiple outbuildings for another victim or a shooter. They noticed shoe prints with a honeycomb pattern in the yard and a shed.
The next day, Wyatt saw Montoya enter the alley, which police had secured. When Wyatt stopped Montoya, he said, he noticed the boy’s shoes were leaving prints consistent with those in Vale’s yard.
• Lucero said after returning from their last trip to Roswell on July 18, he noticed the batteries had been taken out of the remote control and pointed it out to Vale.
Vale then told him about other discrepancies, including an open, partially full beer bottle in the refrigerator, an empty bottle of Smirnoff in the trash can, urine in the toilet and toilet paper in her underwear drawer, he said.
The couple asked the landlady to change the locks and fix the back door, which had to be slammed to lock, Lucero said. When she didn’t do so the next morning as promised, they decided to move, he said.
Over the next couple of days, Lucero said, Vale gave a box of breakfast food to Montoya.
“She said she just felt bad for him because he was always alone and stuff,” Lucero said.
Lucero said the only keys to the lock on his gun were the one on his key chain and the one his father had in Roswell. He said he didn’t know where the different key police found in the lock came from and was surprised it opened the lock.
• Bianca Montoya Pagan, Montoya’s mother, denied that her son told her the neighbors were moving until Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer showed her transcripts from a previous statement she made. Then Pagan said Montoya had pointed out Vale was moving boxes.
Also, Pagan said she never heard shots.
“Actually, I can’t say because I wasn’t paying attention that day or any of the other days,” she said.
Pagan denied knowing about Montoya having a lock box with a key and said she couldn’t clearly remember her conversation with Montoya about the homicide. Chandler had previously said Pagan stated that her son suggested whoever had broken into the house next door had committed the homicide.
• John Montoya Jr., Montoya’s grandfather, said he didn’t recall seeing his grandson pace around the house looking out windows as police investigated. He also denied the boy ever mentioned a break-in at the neighbor’s house.
When Chandler asked if he remembered saying otherwise in an earlier interview, the grandfather said the boy must have been trying to see what was happening by pacing and did tell him Vale said she was moving because of a break-in.
When Chandler asked if the elder Montoya’s statements were different Tuesday than in the past, the grandfather agreed they were. Upon further questioning, the man said he’d recently been fired from a long-time job for stealing and had pleaded guilty to the charge.
Chandler asked if he had been looking for favor for his grandson.
“I can’t testify against him,” the elder Montoya said.
The trial resumes today and is scheduled to last through Friday.