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October 20, 2014

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Man accused in fatal ax attack will use insanity defense

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Steve Marcus

Harold Montague, accused of an assault with a medieval-style battle ax that killed a baby, appears for an arraignment hearing at the Regional Justice Center, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

Montague Arraignment (3-3-10)

Harold Montague, accused of an assault with a medieval-style battle ax that killed a baby, talks with attorney Andrea Luem before an arraignment hearing at the Regional Justice Center, Wednesday, March 3, 2010. Launch slideshow »
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Harold Montague

The attorney representing a man accused in an ax attack that left a mother severely wounded and her infant son dead said he intends for his client to plead not guilty by reason of insanity when he is arraigned in district court.

Harold Montague, 33, is accused of using a medieval-style battle ax to attack Sandra Lissett Castro and her infant son, Damian, as she pushed the infant in a stroller shortly before noon Feb. 11 on a residential street near Sahara Avenue and South Maryland Parkway.

Castro was critically injured but survived; Damian was pronounced dead at the scene.

Montague appeared in court Thursday for the conclusion of a preliminary hearing during which a Clark County medical examiner testified about the wounds on the dead baby’s body.

Dr. Lisa Gavin said every bone in the infant’s head was fractured as a result of three chop wounds – one on the forehead, one near the right ear and one on the back right of the head.

Any one of the chop wounds was forceful enough it could have been fatal, she said.

Gavin, who responded to the scene and later performed the autopsy on the infant, said she observed numerous contusions and abrasions on his face and head that would have been consistent with the surface of the street on which he was found.

Brain matter was found on the street next to the body, she said.

She ruled the death a homicide and determined the cause of death to be multiple chop wound injuries to the head.

Montague also is accused of attacking his disabled sister-in-law, Monica O’Dazier, by stabbing her multiple times with the pointed end of the ax. She was injured but released from the hospital shortly after the attack.

Witnesses testified he also got into a physical altercation with a police officer who responded to the scene.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson ruled there was enough evidence presented at the hearing to bind Montague to district court on charges of murder, attempted murder and battery on a police officer.

He is set to be arraigned May 3 in front of District Court Judge Stefany Miley.

Prosecutors said that before Montague is arraigned, they will present the case to the death penalty review committee in the District Attorney’s office to determine whether the state will seek capital punishment.

After the hearing, Deputy Public Defender Norm Reed, who represents Montague, repeated what he had said at previous hearings: that his client is “severely delusional.”

“He was at the time of the offense; he continues to be severely delusional,” Reed said. “We will be entering a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity and we’re hoping at the end he’ll spend the rest of his natural life in a prison where he can address his mental health issues.”

Reed said that because the threshold for competency is low, he believes his client is legally competent in spite of his delusions.

He said that further evidence of “bizarre, unusual behavior” exhibited by Montague in the weeks leading up to the incident would be presented at future hearings.

“This is obviously a situation where it couldn’t have happened for any other reason but that he was severely insane at the time,” Reed said. Montague is remorseful about what happened, he said.

“Unfortunately, a delusional disorder is not something that can be medicated away,” he said.

Montague isn’t on medications at this time but has been evaluated by mental health professionals, Reed said.

Montague’s wife, Erricca, was in the courtroom before the proceedings began, sitting quietly in the rear of the room, away from the throng of media. Because she is a witness in the case, she was asked to leave before testimony began.

On Monday, a scarred and still visibly injured Castro testified and, trembling, identified Montague as the person who attacked her.

Montague is being held without bail in the Clark County Detention Center.

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