Montwheeler pleads not guilty to murder, other charges

Anthony Montwheeler sits in a Vale courtroom during proceedings in his criminal case last month. (The Enterprise/file)

VALE – More than two years after the crimes, Anthony Montwheeler on Friday pleaded not guilty in Malheur County Circuit Court to aggravated murder, kidnapping and assault charges that left a Weiser woman and a Vale man dead.

Montwheeler, sitting in a wheelchair and dressed in street clothes, remained silent while one of his attorneys, William David Falls, said that his client was pleading “not guilty to all counts.”

He is charged with a series of crimes from Jan. 9, 2017. He is accused of kidnapping an ex-wife, Annita Harmon, and stabbing her to death outside an Ontario convenience store. He is charged with murder following a head-on crash on Oregon Highway 201 that killed David Bates and injured his wife, Jessica.

Montwheeler faces counts of aggravated murder, three counts of murder, and one count each of first-degree assault and first-degree kidnapping.

Malheur County District Attorney Dave Goldthorpe has said he would seek the death penalty if Montwheeler is convicted.

And Montwheeler may be headed for his third trip to the Oregon State Hospital since he was charged. The state is asking he be sent to the hospital for yet another psychiatric examination.

He has been there twice since he was charged to assess whether he was fit for trial. His plea on Friday came after hospital officials concluded that Montwheeler was mentally capable of aiding in his own defense.

The trial on the charges has been scheduled for September.