Appeal denied for man found guilty of killing two CMPD officers

Published: May. 15, 2012 at 1:04 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 14, 2012 at 1:12 PM EDT
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Demeatrius Montgomery was convicted with killing officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton
Demeatrius Montgomery was convicted with killing officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton
Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton were killed in the line of duty in 2007
Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton were killed in the line of duty in 2007

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A man who shot and killed two Charlotte police officers in northeast Charlotte in 2007 has been denied an appeal to overturn his murder conviction.

In September 2010, Demeatrius Antonio Montgomery was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the slaying of Officers Sean Clark and Jeff Shelton at the Timber Ridge Apartments in east Charlotte in 2007.  He is currently serving two consecutive life sentences without parole.

His new attorney filed an appeal, 217 pages long, in September 2011 in an attempt to get the conviction overturned. Several of the 16 reasons for appeal deal with Montgomery's mental competency.

The court ruled that the appeal was without merit and that the trial court did not err in procedure.

However, Montgomery's appellate defender, Andrew DiSimone said he is reviewing the possibility of filing a petition with the NC Supreme Court.

Jeff Shelton's father, John, told WBTV he feels like the panel's decision was a "moral victory," but he knew the case would not be over.

"It won't bring Jeff back, but it helps," said John Shelton.

The ruling was a validation for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office and police officers who worked on the case.

Assistant District Attorneys Glenn Cole III, and Beth Greene told WBTV in 2011 they believed Montgomery got a fair trial and the convictions will be upheld.

During most of the trial, Montgomery sat silently at the table and Judge Forrest "Don" Bridges told the jury that Montgomery's silence should not influence their decision.

Montgomery's trial started as a death penalty case, but the judge threw the death penalty out after evidence issues surfaced with an investigating detective.

Judge Bridges denied a motion for a second competency hearing in August 2010, after Montgomery's lawyer asked the court to declare him incompetent.  Judge Bridges said the competency hearing from the previous August was sufficient and that ruling – that Montgomery was competent enough to stand trial – would stand.

In that ruling, Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz released a court order which concluded: "The Court finds that Defendant has not met his burden to show that he is incompetent to stand trial."

It went on to read, "The Court denies Defendant's request for an order declaring that Defendant is incompetent to proceed to trial."

The order states that Montgomery completed the 11th grade and was only one math credit short of receiving his GED.  Montgomery's mother died around 2003 and court documents show that he "...would on occasion talk to himself, play with toys, watch cartoon television programs, go for long walks alone at night, and dress in layers during the summer."

The court order states that Montgomery was never treated for mental illness following his mother's death.

Prior to or after his mother's death, court documents state that Montgomery abused marijuana and a drug known as "loveboat" which is made from formaldehyde.

Dr. Nicole Wolfe, a forensic psychiatrist at Dorothea Dix, was one of four experts who evaluated Montgomery.  She met with him 25 times which is more than any other expert who evaluated Montgomery.  She told the court that Montgomery was competent to stand trial.  In most of the sessions with Wolfe, Montgomery was withdrawn and would not talk.

Wolfe's opinion was that Montgomery's "mutism was selective and voluntary because it was triggered almost exclusively whenever [she] attempted to steer the conversation toward a discussion of the pending legal proceedings."

Wolfe concluded that Montgomery was not suffering from hallucinations or delusions and that his behavior while at Dorothea Dix in Raleigh was not consistent with paranoid schizophrenia.

Montgomery was also evaluated by forensic psychiatrists Dr. George Corvin, Dr. James Hilkey and Dr. Seymour Halleck, who concluded that Montgomery did suffer from psychotic illness, most likely paranoid schizophrenia.

Despite their testimony, the court ruled that Montgomery " not suffering from a mental illness and that he can assist in his defense, if he so chooses."

The court order indicates that most paranoid schizophrenics usually have bad hygiene but Montgomery was very meticulous in his grooming habits.  They also observed that he was talkative with staff who gave him medications which is also "inconsistent with that of a paranoid schizophrenic."

They also observed through recorded phone that Montgomery was "generally coherent and stable" in his conversations with family, the court order states.

Based on testimony from the forensic psychiatrists and Montgomery's actions and behaviors, Judge Diaz said the court was not convinced that Montgomery was incompetent to stand trial.

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