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Man sentenced in 2010 Kearns slaying

Published July 19, 2013 7:23 pm

Courts • Montoya, who says he is "terribly ashamed," plans to seek a new trial.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Amos Pacheco's 5-year-old son wants to go fishing or his 8-year-old daughter wants to go outside and play, they ask for their father.

But the only place they can go to see their father, grandmother Michelle Flores said, is the cemetery.

"My grandchildren get to go to a headstone when they want to see their daddy," Flores said. "I have been waiting for three years for closure. I know that no matter what happens, it won't bring my son back, but the man who killed him needs to start serving his time."

After a judge sentenced him to prison Friday, he will. But not to the extent the Pacheco family wanted.

Third District Judge Deno Himonas said little Friday as he sentenced Montoya to two terms of 15 years to life at the Utah State prison for murder and obstruction of justice, both first-degree felonies. But he ordered the sentences to run parallel to each other.

That means rather than serving a mandatory minimum of 30 years, as Montoya would have if Himonas ordered the sentences to run consecutively, Montoya may be eligible for parole in half that time.

Montoya, who was convicted of murder by a jury in April, plans to appeal the conviction and petition for a new trial.

In a written statement his lawyers read aloud Friday, Montoya said he hopes for forgiveness from both his and Pacheco's family, but Montoya has also maintained that his actions were borne of self-defense, not malice, the day Pacheco was killed.

"I feel terribly ashamed for all the people I've affected, all the heartache I've caused, all the pain," Montoya wrote. "Not only for the victim's family and children, but for my family and children."

This refusal to take full responsibility for his actions and alleged intentions has haunted the Pacheco family, who showed up to court on Friday wearing black and white ribbons and red hearts around a photograph of Pacheco fastened to their shirts.

"Our lives will never be the same; Josh has changed our lives forever," said Crystal Snounou, Pacheco's cousin. "If he really wants forgiveness, he needs to stop dragging this on, stop bringing it back to court and let it just be what it is. Go to prison, do your time, let us heal."

Prosecutors have painted Montoya as a calculated killer, who didn't like Pacheco, how the man treated the mother of Montoya's children, Ana Torres, or how Pacheco behaved around Montoya's three young kids. Prosecutors have said Montoya walked out of his Kearns home, near 5700 South and 4600 West, to start a fight and finish Pacheco on that day more than three years ago.

But Montoya claimed the shooting was an accident, an unfortunate mistake made in trying to defend himself from Pacheco, who was dating Torres at the time.

Montoya, who testified in his own defense at his April trial, said Pacheco had threatened him with violence and pulled the gun that day. When Montoya saw it, he said, he lunged for the weapon and shot Pacheco while trying to wrestle the gun from his grip.

Britney Montoya, the defendant's cousin, told the judge Friday that her cousin isn't a bad person and asked him to spare him as much time behind bars as possible.

"This whole ordeal has been horrible for both sides," she said. "Neither of these men deserve what's happened to them. Amos should be with his kids and Josh should be with his. We need to stop this cycle."

The judge also ordered Montoya pay full restitution, the amount of which will be determined in the next four months.

mlang@sltrib.cm

Twitter: marissa_jae