The 13-year-old convicted in the July 2010 shooting death of 21-year-old Angel Vale has received the maximum sentence under New Mexico law.
DeAngelo Montoya, convicted of second-degree murder, aggravated burglary, two counts of tampering with evidence and larceny, has been committed to the custody of the state Children, Youth and Families Department until age 21.
Ninth Judicial District Judge Drew Tatum gave the sentence Monday afternoon at Roosevelt County Courthouse.
The CYFD has the authority to assign Montoya to a group home or treatment foster care at its discretion. Under state law, he can’t be sent to prison because of his age.
“Throughout this case, I was sickened, disheartened and ultimately left with the question of why,” Tatum said before giving the sentence.
Tatum saw very little explanation or remorse for the killing, he said. All he could do, he said, was follow the statutes and hope Montoya would receive the treatment he needed and be rehabilitated.
Tatum said he thought long-term treatment was crucial.
After the sentencing, Chris Christensen, Montoya’s attorney, said he planned to look at appellate issues still present and proceed appropriately through the New Mexico appeals process.
Deputy District Attorney Donna Mowrer expressed agreement with Tatum’s decision.
“Nothing can bring Angel back, but the judge imposed the maximum sentence under the law, and that was appropriate,” she said. “Law enforcement did a good job gathering the evidence, and I think we presented a good case to the jury.”
“I’m just glad we finally got justice, all we can get, anyway,” said Vale’s fiance, Edward Lucero Jr.
He said he appreciated the efforts of the police and lawyers.
Adriana Lucero, his mother, also said she was glad justice had been served, although they would never get Vale back.
“I’ve forgiven (Montoya), and I hope he gets the help he needs,” she said.
In arguments before the sentence was given, attorneys referred to a diagnostic evaluation of Montoya.
Mowrer said the report didn’t mention two previous incidents Montoya was involved in, one in which he brought a knife to school and said it was for protection, and one in which he and another individual broke into a home and then set a car on fire with tissue from that home.
“What’s also clear from the diagnostic evaluation is that placement of the child back in the home he came from is not appropriate,” Mowrer said.
The report also indicated that Montoya met criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, although the experts couldn’t find a cause, and that he was intelligent, she said.
Mowrer said Montoya brought up the “like father, like son” concept, referring to his father, Byron Logan, who is serving a 16-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.
“There has to be a message to the community that just because you’re a minor child doesn’t mean you can get away with this kind of delinquent acts,” she said.
Mowrer later said Montoya was too old to make quick changes and needed a long-term commitment.
Several relatives and friends of Vale spoke before the decision, speaking of Vale’s desire to help people and the goals she didn’t have a chance to accomplish, and saying her death had shattered their lives.
Montoya’s family declined to make statements at the sentencing.
In his argument, Christensen said the diagnostic showed Montoya was over-anxious, had low self-esteem and could be influenced by others. He said Montoya had lived in a chaotic environment his whole life.
Christensen also pointed to two substantiated instances in which Montoya had been neglected. He said the boy needed treatment foster care so he could experience a stable family environment.
“He has some areas of promise we must seize upon,” Christensen said.
The report indicates Montoya showed resiliency, a desire to learn, creativity, activity and a desire to succeed, Christensen said. He said the report gave Montoya a fair to good prognosis for rejecting the criminal lifestyle if he received clinical stabilization.
However, Christensen said, an extended commitment would hinder Montoya’s development, stability and moral progress.