from the District Court of Campbell County The Honorable
Michael N. Deegan, Judge
Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender:
Diane M. Lozano, State Public Defender; Kirk A. Morgan, Chief
Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Attorney General;
Christyne M. Martens, Deputy Attorney General; Caitlin F.
Harper, Senior Assistant Attorney General.
DAVIS, C.J., and FOX, KAUTZ, BOOMGAARDEN, and GRAY, JJ.
Michael Paul Montano pleaded no contest to two counts of
second-degree murder and guilty to two counts of mutilation
of dead human bodies as part of a plea agreement. The
district court accepted his pleas but rejected the
agreement's joint sentencing recommendation. Mr. Montano
appeals, claiming the State violated the plea agreement when
it recommended the agreed-upon sentence, but made negative
comments about Mr. Montano's conduct. We affirm.
Did the State breach its plea agreement with Mr. Montano by
commenting on the evidence?
Jody Fortuna and Phillip Brewer travelled to Gillette,
Wyoming in late August 2016, to see their friend, Michael
Montano. They were unaware that, at least in Mr.
Montano's mind, the friendship had soured. Several days
after the Fortuna and Brewer families reported the men
missing, a witness informed law enforcement that she had seen
Mr. Brewer's body in the bed of Mr. Montano's pickup
truck. Later that day, a deputy found the truck parked near
an intersection. As he approached the truck, he
"immediately detected a strong foul odor, similar to
that of an animal which had been dead for quite some
time." He saw dried blood on the truck's tail gate
and a blue 55-gallon barrel in the backseat. A search of the
truck uncovered two plastic storage totes containing several
plastic garbage bags of dismembered male body parts and
clothing and documents belonging to Mr. Fortuna and Mr.
The same day, law enforcement spoke with Mr. Montano's
friend, Samson Bears. Mr. Bears reported that Mr. Montano had
come to his workplace a few days earlier, asking if he could
have one of his blue 55-gallon barrels. When Mr. Bears asked
why he wanted one, Mr. Montano responded, "I gotta get
rid of some bodies." According to Mr. Bears, Mr. Montano
said he had shot Mr. Fortuna and Mr. Brewer, and one of them
had "begged like a bitch." Afterwards, he cut up
their bodies in his bathtub with a saw. Mr. Bears believed
Mr. Montano had killed them because of a conflict over drugs
and money. When Mr. Montano stabbed a plastic bag in the back
of the truck, Mr. Bears "smelled a strong odor, similar
to that of a deer which had been dead for a long time."
Mr. Montano also told Mr. Bears that he had stored
"brain matter" in a storage unit.
Law enforcement searched Mr. Montano's trailer, a motel
room where he frequently stayed, and his storage unit. At the
trailer, a blood-illuminating substance revealed signs of
blood in several areas of the home, and law enforcement found
several patched bullet holes and a fired bullet inside one of
the walls. A search of the motel room uncovered a gun lock to
a Ruger firearm and a list of "cleaning supplies that
could be used to clean up the scene of a murder." At the
storage unit, law enforcement discovered two more plastic
totes containing body parts.
After his arrest, Mr. Montano told police he wanted the
"death penalty" and that he had "never killed
anybody before." He stated that he ran into Mr. Fortuna
and Mr. Brewer after he had been using heroin and that they
all returned to his trailer home. He claimed he had passed
out and the next thing he remembered was being woken up by
his girlfriend, Kylee Collins, who had found Mr.
Fortuna's and Mr. Brewer's bodies in the bathtub. Mr.
Montano told Ms. Collins to leave, saying that he "would
take care of it." Mr. Montano said he left the bodies in
the bathtub for a few days while deciding what to do and then
cut them into pieces, placing the parts in plastic totes. Ms.
Collins returned to the trailer home to help him clean, and
the two of them drove around with the totes, looking for a
place to bury the body parts. Mr. Montano initially denied
shooting the men, but during a break in the interview said,
"[F]*** it, I did it. I killed em." When asked to
clarify the statement he again denied killing them, saying he
did not remember pulling the trigger.
Mr. Montano and the State reached a plea agreement in which
they agreed to jointly recommend concurrent sentences of 51.5
years to life on two counts of second-degree murder and 2.5
years to three years on two counts of mutilation of dead
human bodies. In exchange, Mr. Montano agreed to plead no
contest to the four counts. At his change of plea hearing,
the court asked if the families approved of the agreement.
The prosecutor responded: "I don't know that you can
say 'approve' . . . we were advised ultimately to go
forward," but that it was not possible to "fashion
a sentence that's reasonable to someone who's lost a
loved one." ...