Jury convicts Brown; gives life sentence
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
May 24, 2013 | 1624 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It took jurors just a little over three hours to convict a man who was charged with first-degree murder in the killing of his lifelong friend.

Wednesday evening, Russell Brown was sentenced to life in prison. He will be sentenced in August for aggravated arson in the Jan. 1, 2012, murder of Harold Lee Montgomery, 39.

The trial began Tuesday and ended late Wednesday.

Brown reportedly set the motel room the two were in on fire after stabbing Montgomery repeatedly.

Preliminary autopsy results indicated 13 wounds.

Cleveland Fire Department was dispatched to Days Inn on Georgetown Road around 7 a.m. New Year’s Day. First responders dragged Montgomery from the burning room and discovered he was deceased.

Autopsy results revealed he died from stab wounds to the face, neck and upper torso.

Lt. Mark Gibson of the Cleveland Police Department Criminal Investigations Division confirmed the wounds through testimony at the trial which began Tuesday, according to court officials.

Brown was established early on as a “person of interest” in the case. He had reportedly taken Montgomery’s Volkswagen Cabriolet from the scene.

He turned himself in to authorities the next day.

Assistant District Attorney General Stephen Hatchett said forensic testimony included the fact the stabbing began on a bed in the room where Brown and Montgomery had gone to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Brown’s 35th birthday.

According to reports, the men had been childhood friends and met on occasion for sexual relations.

Brown and Montgomery had reportedly celebrated New Year’s Eve at Brown’s apartment then left to get alcohol and drugs. They then went to the motel to spend the night.

Brown took the stand and alleged Montgomery sexually assaulted him. According to Hatchett, Brown alleged an altercation broke out prior to the stabbing and Brown testified Montgomery hit him in the face.

Gibson rebutted the testimony stating “Brown had no visible injuries during questioning” which occurred the next day after he was taken into custody.

Hatchett said forensic DNA swabs and examination proved no evidence of that occurring.

Brown will be remanded to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, with the possibility of parole after serving a 52-year sentence, according to Hatchett.