Her face still scarred and her memories still haunted, Sandra Castro recalled the evil in the eyes of the man who attacked her and killed her 4-month-old son with a battle ax four years ago.
Castro wept as she asked a judge Wednesday to deliver justice to her son’s killer, Harold Montague.
“He attacked us without mercy,” Castro said through an interpreter during Montague’s sentencing. “Who is going to give me back my baby’s smile?”
In February 2010, Montague left his southeast valley home armed with the ax that he used to hack Castro and her baby, Damian Avila Castro, as they strolled down the street.
“I never thought that a block away from my house lay danger for my child, Damian,” Castro said Wednesday. “I was walking like anybody else, without hurting anybody else. That’s why I asked myself, ‘Why me? Why my baby?’”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert Daskas said Montague should die behind bars.
“He should never know life beyond the four walls of his prison cell,” the prosecutor said.
District Judge Stefany Miley ordered Montague to spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole for the charge of first-degree murder with the use of a deadly weapon. The judge added another 40 to 100 years to the sentence for the weapon enhancement and two counts of attempted murder with a deadly weapon.
Castro’s husband, Carlos Avila, rubbed her back while they sat at the prosecutors’ table and she described the horrific scene.
“Look at me to see how he left my face forever damaged,” she said.
Daskas stood behind them, his eyes toward the floor and his right hand pressed against his mouth. The judge looked toward the ceiling with pursed lips. A Metro officer clutched a tissue as his eyes turned red.
Castro testified that Montague mocked her when she she begged for her son’s life. He climbed on top of her, struck her with the ax and dragged her around.
“I was saying, ‘No more. Please. My baby,’” Castro said. “All I cared about was my son. … I only want justice for my son.”
Damian died in the attack, and Castro was left severely wounded.
Earlier the same day, Montague had stabbed his mentally and physically disabled sister-in-law, Monica O’Dazier, 20 times while she was in his home on San Pedro Avenue, near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway.
He then ran outside where Castro and her son were headed toward the store.
Montague’s wife, Erricca , testified in 2010 that her husband did not eat properly or hydrate himself in the days leading up to the attacks. He would pace around their home.
A neighbor saw Montague attacking the mother and child and called 911 before she ran out from her home and confronted Montague, which caused him to run from the scene.
Castro’s mouth had been split, her face covered in blood, and her lower jaw was on her chest, the neighbor said at the time.
Montague charged at a police officer and yelled, “It’s God’s will,” before he was subdued with a Taser.
Castro listed the everyday parts of her son’s growing up that she would never see: crying for a bottle, speaking his first words, playing with his father.
“I want justice because I don’t want another mother to have to go through what happened to me,” Castro told the judge Wednesday.
Since the attack, the memory of her son has given her strength to carry on, “to not let myself be defeated by that man.”
Standing next to Deputy Public Defender Norm Reed, Montague stared straight ahead, occasionally glancing down, without looking at Castro. Moments before, he offered a few words of remorse.
“I’m so sorry for what happened. I’m not that person,” he said. “I could never apologize enough for what happened.”
Earlier this year, Montague, now 38, pleaded guilty but mentally ill to the charges.
Castro said she will never forget how Montague snatched her son away “in the worst way possible. He took away from me what I wanted and most desired in life.”
She tried to defend herself with her hands, so he wouldn’t hit her face, but Montague pulled them away.
“I can’t forget his face,” Castro said. “I close my eyes, and I see it as if it was today. I have nightmares.”
Contact reporter David Ferrara at 702-380-1039 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker.