CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It was no easy task sending Demeatrius Montgomery to prison for the rest of his life. Now that the trial is over, prosecutors are free to talk more openly about the case.
Montgomery shot and killed Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton as they were responding to a disturbance call at the TimberRidge apartments in 2007. Both officers were shot at close range and had no time to defend themselves.
Within the first week, Judge Forrest Bridges threw out the death penalty because a Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department detective admitted plagiarizing his statement.
"It was a monumental disappointment," said Marsha Goodenow, lead prosecutor. She said they always considered it a death penalty case and that's what they worked toward for three and half years.
It took three weeks of testimony and only seven hours for the jury to deliberate before finding Montgomery guilty.
"We watched them, but they had poker faces. They did not react to much of anything," said Goodenow.
"They took their job seriously. This was a good group," said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Cole.
Montgomery remained silent throughout the trial. He often refused to dress for court and refused to answer questions. Judge Bridges repeatedly said Montgomery's silence speaks to his approval with his attorneys in their handling of the case.
"Demeatrius Montgomery is proud of what he did," said Assistant District Attorney Beth Greene, who also worked on the case.
"His demeanor in the courtroom was intended to let everyone know he was not remorseful, he was not embarrassed, he was proud of murdering those two officers," said Greene.
The prosecution team said they also had several witnesses who refused to testify. Some of them were eye-witnesses to the crime. Many of them were younger individuals.
However, the team also praised those TimberRidge neighbors who did come forward, despite their fears.
"The case was made that night by residents of that community," said Greene.
Several pinned Montgomery to the scene and two testified they saw him running with a gun. While Montgomery's fingerprints were never found on the gun, they were lifted from a box of bullets that matched the murder weapon. Montgomery's DNA was also on the gun.
Goodenow also for the first time publicly described the brief and benign exchange between Montgomery and the officers that night. Much of it was never heard in court because the account came from witnesses who refused to testify.
Goodenow said they had one witness who heard one officer ask Montgomery how he was doing, where he lived, and whether he had an ID.
Goodenow said Montgomery never responded. Gunfire was heard seconds later.
She said Montgomery's white t-shirt was likely ripped by one of the officers who grabbed him falling down.
The team says they were relieved when that guilty verdict came down. They spent countless hours reviewing some 45,000 documents, including hundreds of witness interviews.
"It was like you've been studying for a huge test...then it's over," said Greene.