Harmony Montgomery’s stepmother took the stand on Friday, describing the “evil crazy eyes look” on her estranged husband’s face when she tried to stop him from hitting his 5-year-old daughter for having a bathroom accident in the car.
“I couldn't stop him from hitting her. The look he gave me was scary. I was scared,” Kayla Montgomery told Hillsborough County Superior Court jurors on Friday about the December 2019 incident. “He said, ‘I think I really hurt her. I felt something.’”
Kayla said the abuse had started early that morning and continued after she and her estranged husband, Adam Montgomery, went to a methadone clinic and headed to Burger King. Each time the family stopped at a red light, she said, Montgomery would go between the seats and punch his daughter in the head.
“Adam kept saying, ‘Shut the fuck up. Stop crying,’” she said, adding that her children were in the car.
She said Montgomery stopped smacking his daughter as the family went through the Burger King drive-thru and ate in the parking lot, but Harmony continued to moan under a blanket. It wasn’t until the family’s car broke down at a traffic light that Adam Montgomery checked on his daughter.
“He said, ‘Harmony,’ and kept saying, ‘baby girl,’ tried to budge her. There was nothing,” Kayla said. “He took the duffle bag in the trunk and put her in the duffle bag.”
Kayla, 33, is currently in prison for lying to a grand jury about her whereabouts when Harmony went missing. At first, she said her husband had dropped her off at her shift at Dunkin Donuts and taken Harmony to her biological mother’s home. She has since recanted her statement, telling jurors on Friday that she lied at Montgomery’s direction.
"I was scared for myself and my children and for Adam, because I didn't want anyone to get in trouble and I was scared," she said.
Adam Montgomery was not in court on Friday, marking the third day he did not attend his murder trial. He has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including second-degree murder, in connection with Harmony’s Dec. 7, 2019, death. During opening statements this week, his lawyers told jurors Montgomery will admit to two charges: abuse of a corpse and falsifying physical evidence.
Defense lawyers on Thursday argued that while Montgomery should be convicted for his efforts to conceal and dispose of Harmony’s body, it is Kayla who is responsible for the child’s murder.
“Only she knows the truth. And only she has benefited from all the lies she has told,” public defender James T. Brooks said.
Prosecutors previously described the pattern of abuse Harmony suffered at the hands of her father after she moved in with him in the summer of 2019. Kayla also described the abuse, including one July 2019 incident in which Adam gave Harmony a black eye.
When the family was evicted from their home and forced to live in the car, Kayla said, Harmony started having daily bathroom accidents that enraged her father.
“He would smack her in the face, legs, hand after an accident,” Kayla said of the abuse. “She would cry whenever she got smacked by him. I could hear it. It sounded like it hurt. I heard the smack and the crying.”
“When he hit her she got black eyes and bruises on her body,” she added. “In public, he would cover her with a comforter in the car, so no one would see her.”
After the murder, prosecutors allege, Montgomery hid his daughter’s body in multiple locations, including the ceiling vent of a family homeless shelter, before disposing of her in March 2020.
He allegedly “butchered her body” and used lime to accelerate the decomposition process, prosecutors said.
“You could smell a horrible smell that was coming through the vents,” Kayla said about Harmony’s hidden remains, adding that they left after the homeless shelter residents complained.
Prosecutors say that Montgomery’s friend rented him a U-Haul that he allegedly used to move Harmony’s remains in the middle of the night. MassDOT records show that the U-Haul was captured on video crossing the Tobin Bridge in Boston at around 4:44 a.m. and returning about an hour later.