When Sandra Castro walked into a courtroom Monday, a white scarf covered her head, rosary beads looped her right forearm, and tears ran over facial scars left behind by an ax attack.
Holding her husband's hand, Castro, a petite young woman who stands about 5 feet tall, told a Las Vegas justice of the peace how she and her 4-month-old son, Damian, were assaulted by an ax-wielding man in February. Her baby was killed.
When asked by prosecutors whether she could identify her attacker, Castro stood and scanned the courtroom.
Spotting defendant Harold Montague, she turned away toward her husband, began to breathe heavily and trembled.
She then turned back to face the defendant, lifted her arm and pointed her index finger at Montague.
Castro said the image of the man who attacked her Feb. 11 has never left her. "I can't get away from it," she said through a Spanish interpreter.
Castro testified at a preliminary hearing before Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson. After testimony from seven witnesses, the hearing was continued until Thursday.
Tobiasson then will decide whether prosecutors presented enough evidence to send the case to District Court, where Montague would stand trial. He is charged with one count of murder with a deadly weapon, two counts of attempted murder and an additional count of battery on a police officer.
Castro testified that she begged her attacker to stop. "I was begging him to let me go. He was mocking me. Every time he would hit me, he would laugh out loud," she said.
Tobiasson also heard from a neighbor, Teresa Garner, who called 911 after seeing the attack from her bedroom window.
Garner, who has lived across the street from Montague for years, recognized her neighbor as the one who attacked Castro and her baby.
The 911 call revealed that Garner's mother tried to keep her from going outside to confront Montague.
But Garner went anyway. Authorities have credited her actions with interrupting Montague before Castro was killed. Garner said she told Montague she was calling 911, and he fled back into his house.
Garner described the condition of the two victims after the attack. Castro's mouth had been split, and her lower jaw was down on her chest, Garner said. Castro's face was covered in blood. "Her face was gone," Garner said.
Garner said Damian's head was cut in two.
Castro kept reaching for her son. Garner testified she told her that Damian was OK in an effort to keep her calm.
Garner said she has sought psychiatric help and is taking medication to ease the anguish caused by the trauma of what she saw.
During the testimony of the two women, Montague hung his head and stared at the desk in front of him.
According to authorities, Montague, who was supposed to be caring for his mentally and physically disabled sister-in-law, Monica O'Dazier, stabbed her first in their home at 1609 San Pedro Ave., near Sahara Avenue and Maryland Parkway. He then ran outside and attacked Castro and her son as they walked to the store, authorities said.
O'Dazier, who was stabbed more than 20 times, survived her injuries.
Montague's wife, Erricca Montague also testified at the hearing.
She said her husband had not slept for at least three days before the attacks. She said she would wake up at night to find him pacing in their home.
Erricca Montague said her husband also had not eaten and appeared dehydrated the morning of the attacks.
She testified that she never thought him capable of violence. If she had, she would never have left him alone with her disabled sister and their two children, ages 2 and 5.
According to testimony from Las Vegas police officers, Harold Montague threatened to kill several officers and unsuccessfully grabbed one officer's shotgun.
Officer David Cienega testified that he struck Montague in the face with the butt of a shotgun during the struggle over the weapon. Days after his arrest, Montague appeared in court with bruises on his face.
Police eventually subdued him with a Taser.
If the case is sent to District Court for trial, it will be reviewed by the district attorney's office death penalty committee.
There are several aggravating circumstances in the case, including the age of the slain victim, who was younger than 14.
That could make Montague eligible for the death penalty, prosecutor Giancarlo Pesci said.
Montague is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@ reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.