According to court officials, Russell Brown’s trial is set to begin Tuesday.
Brown was charged with first-degree murder and aggravated arson. Authorities with a local motel alerted Cleveland Fire Department that a room at the motel was on fire and subsequently a man’s body was discovered.
Harold Lee Montgomery, 39, reportedly died of multiple stab wounds to his neck and upper torso, according to reports from findings of the Cleveland Police Department Criminal Investigations Division.
Autopsy results indicated Montgomery died of 13 stab wounds and not smoke inhalation. Montgomery’s body was found in the burning motel room New Year’s Day just after 7 a.m. and investigators began looking for clues that might help to identify the perpetrator. According to Lt. Mark Gibson of the Cleveland Police Department Criminal Investigations Division, Brown, 35, was arrested the next day. Brown and Montgomery had reportedly celebrated New Year’s at Brown’s apartment the night before, leaving to get alcohol and drugs, then a motel room at Days Inn located on Georgetown Road. The two men were also celebrating Brown’s birthday, which was New Year’s Eve, according to investigator’s reports.
The Cleveland Fire Department was notified of a fire at the motel and when firefighters arrived they dragged Montgomery out of the burning room and discovered he was deceased. Further investigation revealed he had been stabbed. After learning Brown could be a possible suspect in the alleged murder, detectives released information about his identifying characteristics and about the car he was apparently driving.
Montgomery’s 1995 Volkswagen Cabriolet was missing from the motel parking lot, according to early reports. Meanwhile, as investigators claimed Brown as a “person of interest” in the alleged homicide, detective Stacy Smith issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the reported arson at the motel.
Detectives learned the men had known each other since childhood and met on occasion for sexual relations, according to reports.
No indication was given on how long the trial may last and jury selection will begin Tuesday morning.