Investigator recounts boy’s interview during trial

Argen Duncan

Defendant DeAngelo Montoya repeatedly denied entering the victim’s home and yard and stealing items before admitting to the acts during an interview soon after the shooting, a district attorney’s office investigator said.

The testimony came Thursday during the third day of Montoya’s trial.

The 13-year-old is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated burglary, two counts of tampering with evidence and larceny.

Police and prosecutors say Montoya broke into Angel Vale’s house and took property more than once, shot her to death July 22, 2010, when she found him with the .22-caliber rifle he stole and disposed of evidence in alley trash containers.

Because of his age, Montoya could face a maximum sentence of commitment to a Children, Youth and Families Department group facility until age 21 if convicted.

Thursday afternoon, Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s Office Investigator Dan Blair said he interviewed Montoya with the boy’s mother present three times the day after Vale was killed.

“At one point in the interview, he said she’d been shot,” Blair said.

It was less than 24 hours after the body was found. The Office of the Medical Investigator hadn’t confirmed Vale was killed by gunshots, and that information hadn’t been released to the public, Blair said.

However, Blair later said Montoya’s mother, Bianca Montoya Pagan, who was interviewed before the boy, said she had learned what had happened through rumors and news media.

Blair said Montoya persisted in telling the three investigators present he never entered Vale’s backyard, the shed there or her home, and hadn’t used any alley trash containers except the one behind his house.

With the trash receptacles, Blair said, investigators didn’t tell Montoya police had found evidence in those to the north and south of the one behind his house. They only asked if the boy used them, he said.

Eventually, Blair said, Montoya said he had been in the yard and later admitted he’d been in the house, but only looked around. Later he said he’d caused all the disturbances except the toilet paper Vale found in her underwear drawer.

In the third interview, Blair said, Montoya said he’d stolen an MP3 player and a DVD set from Vale’s house, and a pair of black panties from another house. He said he kept them in the shed in Vale’s yard, Blair testified.

Blair said Montoya told investigators he’d dumped his stolen property into the trash containers, where the murder weapon and ammunition were also found, on July 22 “because he didn’t need the hassle anymore.”

Pagan asked her son about how he denied the actions for three or four hours and then confessed.

“Yeah, because I’m freaking scared here,” he replied, according to the transcript.

Pagan told Montoya he wouldn’t be scared if he hadn’t done it, and Blair said investigators weren’t there to scare him, Blair testified.

When Blair asked about Vale’s death, Montoya became upset, he said.

“Immediately he said, ‘You’re trying to frame me,’” Blair said.

Blair testified Montoya insisted he didn’t kill “nobody” and eventually refused to talk about Vale, the gun used to kill her or the ammunition.

During the interview, Montoya also told investigators he’d heard gun shots north of Lime Street before the day Vale was killed.

Blair said Montoya claimed to hear three or four gunshots coming from the same area the afternoon Vale was shot. Montoya said he went outside after the first shot and heard the others, but didn’t see or hear anyone at Vale’s house, Blair testified.

More than once, Montoya offered to say what investigators wanted, but they replied they wanted to know what happened, Blair said.

Other testimony included:

• Kristen Radecki, state Department of Public Safety forensic scientist who specializes in analyzing body fluids and DNA. She served as the technical reviewer of the analysis another scientist performed on items from the crime scene before that scientist went to Iraq, becoming unavailable for testimony.

Most of the items didn’t have the DNA or body fluid for which the scientist was testing.

Radecki said the other scientist also looked for signs of blood in Montoya’s clothes and swabs taken from his skin but didn’t find any, Radecki said.

The rifle had a mixture of DNA, and none of it came from Montoya, Vale or Lucero, she said. Radecki said DNA could have been transferred to the rifle in the trash container.

One of two plastic cups found in the backyard shed with shell casings had DNA on the rim.

“A partial DNA test result was obtained on this item, but it was interpretable,” Radecki said.

The partial profile didn’t provide an exact match, but could have come from Montoya and not Vale or Lucero, she said.

• Pathologist Nadia Granger of the state Office of the Medical Investigator. Granger participated in the autopsy of Vale.

Granger said Vale had bruises and abrasions, and had been shot three times. She said she couldn’t determine the order in which the gunshot wounds came or whether a person was standing, sitting or so forth when shot.

Vale could have survived the bullet that entered her mouth and the one that ran under the skin of her shoulder and neck if either had been her only wound, Granger said.

She said the bullet that entered under Vale’s left arm passed through her heart and both lungs, and a little less than half of her blood spilled into her chest cavity.

Granger said it wouldn’t take long for such a wound to incapacitate someone.

“Typically for an injury like this, we’ll say minutes,” she said.