Ax murder suspect's defense is outlined

Harold Montague had "evil in his eyes" when he attacked a 4-month-old boy and his mother with a battle ax, killing the boy, a witness said Tuesday during the first day of Montague's preliminary hearing.

On Thursday, Montague's defense attorney, Norm Reed, said it wasn't evil, "it was insanity in his eyes."

Reed, a deputy public defender, said that doctors for the defense have diagnosed the 33-year-old as delusional and that Montague will plead not guilty to murder and other charges by reason of insanity.

"Harold Montague is severely delusional. He was at the time of the offense. He continues to be severely delusional," Reed said. "And we're hoping that in the end that he will spend the rest of his natural life in a prison where he can address his mental health issues."

Reed's statement came moments after Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson found prosecutors presented enough evidence during a preliminary hearing to send the case to District Court, where Montague will stand trial.

Montague is charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon, two counts of attempted murder and battery and an additional count of battery on a police officer.

Authorities allege that on Feb. 11, Montague killed the infant, Damian Avila Castro, and critically injured his mother, Sandra Castro, outside Montague's home on San Pedro Avenue, near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway.

He also is accused of earlier stabbing 20 times his mentally and physically disabled sister-in-law, Monica O'Dazier. Before he was taken into custody, Montague attacked a police officer, authorities allege.

Reed said that there was no other reason for what happened on Feb. 11, other than Montague "was severely insane at the time. But for the delusion, it wouldn't have happened."

Montague had exhibited bizarre and unusual behavior in the weeks leading up to the incident, Reed said.

During testimony at the preliminary hearing, Montague's wife, Erricca, testified that her husband had not slept for at least three days before the attacks and that he was not properly eating or hydrating himself.

She said she would wake up at night to find him pacing in their home.

Also, a police officer testified that as he was attacked by Montague, the defendant yelled "it's God's will."

Reed said there was more evidence of bizarre behavior than that suggested by the testimony of Erricca Montague and the officer. He would not elaborate on what that evidence was.

Reed said Montague has expressed remorse for what happened.

The preliminary hearing was continued from Tuesday, when seven witnesses took the stand, including Sandra Castro.

On Thursday, Tobiasson heard testimony from Dr. Lisa Gavin, the Clark County medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Damian.

Gavin said Damian suffered three "chop wounds" to his head that penetrated his skull.

She said each was a lethal blow.

Prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci said the district attorney's death penalty committee will review the case next week and decide whether Montague is eligible for capital punishment.

Prosecutors have said there are several aggravating circumstances in the case, including the age of the slain victim, who was younger than 14.

Montague is scheduled to be arraigned in District Court on May 3. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at or 702-380-1039.