Suspect in Portales man’s death had a history of mental competency issues

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom New Mexico

A Portales man charged this week with murder has a history of mental competency issues, court records show.

Isaac Montano II had been jailed since 2007 on drug and alcohol charges. He was released June 25 on bond reduced by District Judge Teddy Hartley while defense attorneys argued he was legally incompetent to stand trial, records show.

Montano also faced charges of shoplifting and drug possession in 2006, but was freed after Magistrate Judge Jane Martin found him incompetent to stand trial in Portales Magistrate Court, records show.

Neither Martin nor Hartley was available for comment on Thursday, according to spokespersons in their offices.
Montano, 46, is accused of stabbing to death Don Chapman, 69, of Portales on Monday.

He’s being held without bond in Roosevelt County Detention Center.

Court records in the 2007 cases show criminal prosecutors have continually argued against Montano’s release from jail, referring to him as a risk to the community. They cited a 1994 case in which Montano was convicted of battery on a police officer.

Meanwhile, defense attorneys repeatedly asked for a reduction in bond, records show.

Last month, bond was reduced from a total of $66,000 to $3,000, records show.

“We had hearings and evidence was presented and the court determined that he was entitled to be released,” said defense attorney Michael Garrett, who represented Montano in the DWI case.

Garrett said defense attorneys argued the state had to prove Montano was competent to stand trial because of the 2006 ruling and, after almost a year, competency was never determined.

“I can honestly tell you that it’s a simple matter. The state has a person that has been previously determined to be incompetent as a matter of law (and) until there is a hearing to determine his competency, he is considered incompetent under the law,” he said.

“Those hearings were postponed in these prior cases for an extended period of time at the request of the state. Due to the extended time … he was granted conditions of release, which, under the law, he was entitled to.”

Prosecutors dismissed charges in the 2007 cases on Wednesday, District Attorney Matt Chandler said.

“Due to the fact that (Montano) was charged for murder in Roosevelt County, the state has dismissed the (other unrelated cases) without prejudice to allow the murder charges to proceed in Roosevelt County without a conflict,” he said.

Chandler said the legal competency level for a homicide is different than that of a DWI or drug possession charge and, “we felt like it would be more beneficial to all parties involved to have a thorough evaluation if needed in the homicide case.”

About 5 p.m. Monday, law officers found Chapman inside his residence at 901 S. Main in Portales. He was semiconscious and suffering from multiple wounds. He died later Monday in a Lubbock hospital.

In addition to being stabbed multiple times, Chandler said Chapman had been shot.

Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said officers were initially called to the area after witnesses saw Montano walking around covered in blood.

In an interview with police after the stabbing, records show Montano alleges Chapman picked him up in a pickup truck and offered him work at his residence.

Montano told police he began struggling with Chapman after the victim made sexual advances toward him, according to court records.

Montano told police he took a gun away from Chapman and “blacked out,” records show.

A family member of the victim declined to comment Wednesday when contacted by phone.

Police have said they believe robbery was the motive for the stabbing.